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Actor Gareth Potter reveals abuse he suffered at hands of former teacher

08 Apr 2021 4 minute read
Gareth Potter speaking out on John Owen: Cadw Cyfrinach (Keeping a Secret) is on S4C

The actor Gareth Potter has revealed the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of his former teacher John Owen.

He described being caught in a “sinister” trap by Owen during his time at Ysgol Rhydfelen, in a documentary which aired on Wednesday evening on S4C, John Owen: Cadw Cyfrinach (Keeping a Secret).

The performer also suggested that there was an unreadiness to investigate the allegations against John Owen at the time.

John Owen killed himself in 2001 before standing trial for the sexual assault of former pupils, which led to the Clywch inquiry in 2004, an investigation by Peter Clarke, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales at the time.

The report found that no-one who heard the evidence in the inquiry would doubt that John Owen was guilty of acts of gross sexual indecency against some pupils at Ysgol Rhydfelen.

It notes also that the evidence had showed that Mr Owen, in all probability, had abused pupils under his care over a number of years.

John Owen also scripted and produced a drama series for young people Pam Fi Duw (Why Me God) for S4C between 1997 and 2002.

It is now nearly 20 years since John Owen killed himself in a caravan in Porthcawl before he was due to appear at his trial in Cardiff Crown Court.

Gareth Potter said: “This is the first time I’ve spoken about it on camera and I’m ok with that.”

‘All of us’ 

He added: “This is my story, but the story of all of us. In a way I feel like I’m representing them all.

“I’d heard about Ysgol Rhydfelen of course. Ysgol Rhydfelen was a very famous school that had a reputation as the Welsh Eton.

“I’d always performed in eisteddfod yr Urdd, I sang, I’d recite, I enjoyed performing.

“To Welsh speakers, they thought that this bloke was amazing, he brought kids from non-Welsh speaking backgrounds like the to speak and to love the Welsh language, we were the future.

“If he said well done it was like well done plus. But I’m sure he started grooming me at a very young age.

“And I was happy enough to be caught in that net, I didn’t know how sinister a trap it was going to turn into.

“He would help me with speeches and stuff, and I used to be in a room with him, with him speaking tenderly with me, maybe sometimes touching me.

“Not in a sexual way, but of course it was getting me used to him being very close to me, just him in the room.

“I remember once for some reason, I was 15 or 16, I remember him shaving me. He put shaving foam on my face and did the whole shave.

“And then I started going to his house. Sometimes we would go to shows outside Cardiff, sometimes we wouldn’t ger back until late and he would (say) ‘come to stay with me’.

“I would stay with him, he had a spare room, and one night he suggested ‘It’s a cold night, you can share a bed with me’.

“He was nice and affectionate with me. And I shared a bed with him. And then he started touching me.

“He would take me to porn cinemas when we were on trips to London. We would go to see a show in the afternoon, a show in the evening, stay in a hotel room, and he’d go ‘how about we go out Gar?’.

“We’d go for a trip around Soho, and he’d pay for us to go in poron cinemas. It was squalid. It was awful.

“He’d play gamed with me like me going to stand on this street corner like a rent boy.

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