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EDITIONS
Sunday, 29 September, 2002, 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK
Sex abuse suspect's legacy row
John Owen (left) at court
Mr Owen killed himself while awaiting trial
Welsh language campaigners have defended their decision to keep a 100,000 legacy left to them by a TV writer who killed himself when accused of child abuse.

Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg has confirmed it accepted the money bequeathed to the organisation by John Owen, who committed suicide before going on trial for child abuse.

The view of those I represent is that the money is tainted, and should not have been accepted

Solicitor Hywel James

The pressure group, which relies on donations for its survival, said it saw no reason to refuse the money.

Plaid Cymru decided against accepting an undisclosed amount from Mr Owen's will just four months ago.

Parents of pupils allegedly abused by Mr Owen said they were shocked by the Cymdeithas decision to accept what they described as "tainted" money.

Solicitor Hywel James, who is representing former pupils at a hearing into the allegations against Mr Owen, said the families of those involved were upset by the acceptance of the money.

Solicitor Hywel James
Re-think call : Hywel James

"The view of those I represent is that the money is tainted, and should not have been accepted," he said.

"They want Cymdeithas to look again at its decision."

Mr Owen - a former drama teacher who wrote the award-winning children's series, Pam Fi, Duw? (Why Me, God?), was found dead in a seaside caravan last October.

The 49-year-old, from Tylorstown, Rhondda, south Wales, had taken a lethal overdose of morphine the day before he was due back in court.

Ffred Ffransis
'Not judgemental' : Ffred Ffransis

He faced allegations of sexually assaulting pupils over a 10-year period whilst a teacher at Ysgol Rhydfelen, near Pontypridd.

An inquiry set up by Children's Commissioner Peter Clarke has been hearing evidence from former pupils who claim they were sexually abused by Mr Owen.

Witnesses - now adults - giving evidence at the hearing have claimed they were forced to dance naked at practical drama exams.

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

'Legitimate'

Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg spokesman Ffred Ffransis said on Sunday that society's committee had seen no reason to refuse the money left to them in Mr Owen's will, as it had had been made legitimately from his work.

"The only possible reason for refusing to accept the money would be if we set ourselves up in such a righteous way as to be judges on other people, and say this person is not good enough for us to accept his money," he said.

He added that a meeting in the summer decided Cymdeithas would accept the bequest, as no objections had been raised by any members.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Wales' Hywel Griffith
"Plaid Cymru was also offered part of the inheritence"

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