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Thursday, 26 September, 2002, 05:51 GMT 06:51 UK
Abuse inquiry accesses key files
John Owen at Rhondda Magistrates Court
John Owen killed himself as he awaited trial
Key documents are due to be handed over to an inquiry examining child abuse allegations against an ex-teacher who committed suicide.

Rhondda Cynon Taff council had previously refused to disclose the files concerning its actions over fresh allegations earlier this year in the John Owen inquiry.

Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen:
Owen taught drama at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen

The hearing this week has been hearing evidence from ex-pupils of Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen, in Pontypridd, claiming they were forced to dance naked at practical exams and from one who alleged she was raped.

The Children's Commissioner for Wales, Peter Clarke, hopes the unpublished documentation will be handed over by council officials.

The documentation is expected to shed light on what disciplinary action, if any, was taken against three teachers who were investigated in connection with the Clywch Inquiry.

The teachers were investigated by the police but no charges were brought.

Mr Clarke - who oversees the welfare of children in Wales - hopes his inquiry will take a step forward with the disclosure of the council's files.

Children's Commissioner Peter Clarke
The inquiry is the first under Children┐s Commissioner Peter Clarke

Earlier on Wednesday, a woman alleged Mr Owen raped her in a private room after she refused to perform a sex act during an A-level practical examination.

The woman, who cannot be named, cried as she told the resumed Clywch Inquiry how Mr Owen had constantly spoken of sexual matters and picked on her during drama lessons at Pontypridd Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen.

Mr Owen - an award-winning children's TV writer and former head of drama at the south Wales valleys school - killed himself last year the day before he was due in court to face five charges of indecency against children.

The woman's evidence comes after the father of a man who claims he was abused by Mr Owen, accused the authorities of trying to cover-up the teacher's activities.

The woman witness said she had been so ashamed of the rape which happened when she was 17, that she had told no one about it.

Trecco Bay: Body found in caravan
Trecco Bay: Body found in caravan

But she had told senior teachers of her concerns about the practical examination when she decided to drop drama, she said.

It was also revealed on Wednesday that four senior teachers at the school had signed a letter 11 years ago warning of the psychological damage Mr Owen was inflicting on a number of pupils at the school.

John Owen
John Owen killed himself last October

The letter was addressed to local authority officials.

The inquiry's barrister, Nicholas Cooke, said that because one official was not willing to testify to the inquiry, it was impossible at this stage to ascertain what further action, if any, was taken.

On Tuesday, the father of one of the witnesses claimed Mr Owen's alleged abuse of pupils had been covered up by the chair and vice-chair of governors at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen.

The parent said the school's management team had been intent on protecting the good name of the campus and of Welsh-medium education.

The inquiry heard evidence from four parents, whose children allege they were sexually or physically abused by Mr Owen.

The issue first came to light when four of Mr Owen's former pupils came forward with abuse allegations dating back to the 1970s.

Mr Owen was subsequently charged with five counts of indecency with boys between 1974 and 1991.

The writer of the Welsh-language youth drama Pam Fi Duw? (Why Me God?)killed himself with an overdose of morphine the day before he was due in court.

He was found dead in a caravan at Trecco Bay, Porthcawl, on the south Wales coast.

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