Helping Figures Like George Gibney Cross National Borders Is at the Heart of the American Swimming Coaches Association’s Business Model

Published January 16th, 2018, Uncategorized

Plaintiff Irvin Muchnick is a freelance journalist investigating sexual abuse in amateur sports. Quite naturally, he wants information about Gibney. See Muchnick Decl. (dkt. 17-1) ¶ 2. He hopes to uncover how American authorities allowed an alleged sexual predator to enter and reside in the United States despite the scandal swirling around him in his native Ireland. Id. ¶ 3. He also suspects that the American Swimming Coaches Association greased the wheels for Gibney’s relocation. Id.

Judge Charles R. Breyer’s December 6, 2016, opinion

 

by Irvin Muchnick

 

I don’t think Judge Breyer, a distinguished senior member of the federal judiciary, was idly plugging my suspicion that the American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA) is a key player in the George Gibney scenario. His opinion in my Freedom of Information Act case for Gibney’s U.S. immigration records not only is a thorough rendering of case law and policy; in its recitation of the factual background, it also reads like a novel. In how many legal decisions does the judge footnote purchasing details for a book he had, obviously, read with great care: Irish journalist Justine McCarthy’s Deep Deception: Ireland’s Swimming Scandals (Paperback copies are $18.95 on Amazon.com)” ?

In Breyer’s ruling “largely in Muchnick’s favor” (as he had put it in a preliminary version a month earlier), third-party names on government documents remain redacted. So clarifying aspects of the American coaching job offer letter Gibney submitted with his 1992 visa application (http://muchnick.net/gibneyjoboffer.pdf) remain elusive.

But is ASCA a third party whose possible Gibney-enabling actions warrant scrutiny by Congresswoman Jackie Speier and Senator Dianne Feinstein, as part of their response to the appeal for help in the Gibney matter by their sister Irish legislator Maureen O’Sullivan?

In considering the answer to this question, you should take into account more than the mere fact that ASCA’s executive director, John Leonard, has said that the interests of children are not part of his organization’s purpose “in any way, shape, or form.” You should also look at the specific services for coaches that ASCA touts.

For starters, ASCA’s employment postings sometimes subvert the intent of USA Swimming to sideline coaches who have been caught behaving badly. A low-life by the name of Dustin Perry was suspended for 18 months by USA Swimming in 2002-03. During the suspension, Perry simply found a job coaching in Mexico, through ASCA, under coach Jack Simon. See http://concussioninc.net/?p=8507; http://concussioninc.net/?p=8520. (Simon himself, an ASCA Hall of Famer, has coached in at least five countries.)

An even more explicit illustration of ASCA’s international reach is its proudly advertised access to immigration and visa legal troubleshooting. In 2014 Concussion Inc. reported that ASCA had announced a partnership with Bratter Krieger LLP, a Florida law firm:

 

“Bratter Krieger specializes in legal work to secure USA Visa’s, Greencards and Citizenship, and has already had significant success working for both athletes and coaches who wish to come to the USA for school, to train and to work. We are very pleased that a law firm specializing in this area is now at work on behalf of our sport. The hiring of an attorney for such needs is an important decision and we are happy to work with a highly professional and experienced firm to bring this service to American clubs and coaches.

Should you have an athlete or coach who requires their services, Bratter Krieger has our highest recommendation for quality service and speed of response.”

 

See http://concussioninc.net/?p=9005. An article the same year in ASCA’s magazine, American Swimming, expounds further on the group’s new relationship with the law firm. See page 3 at https://swimmingcoach.org/pdf/pub/14mag02.pdf.

Attorney Joshua Bratter has since broken away from Bratter Krieger and now has his own firm, Bratter PA. He is also “Immigration Expert and partner” for the swimming news site SwimSwam.com. In an interview with SwimSwam last year, at https://swimswam.com/impact-immigration-law-elite-swimmers-joshua-bratter-esq/#!parentId=493287, Bratter made it clear that while most of his swimming immigration cases involve athletes, coaches also fall within his purview:

 

“The field of ‘athletics’ by its definition, and the corresponding statutory language, contemplates the critical role of coaches in the professional achievements of their athletes. [As immigration counsel to ASCA, our firm has] represented many coaches, from NCAA D1 coaches, to coaches of National Federations and Olympic Teams, to Club Teams, and even age-group leaders….”

 

Did George Gibney get a boost from the American Swimming Coaches Association more than a quarter of a century ago? We don’t yet know the answer — except that it is a long way from a slam-dunk “no.”