Below is the full text of the article in London’s Sunday Times. It is reprinted with permission. © Times Newspapers Limited 2015
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Swimmer says Gibney “obtained visa in lottery”
By Justine McCarthy
9 August 2015
CHALKIE WHITE, who has alleged George Gibney sexually abused him as an 11-year-old swimmer, believes the former national coach gained entry to the US with a visa he obtained in a lottery in 1988.
Gibney eluded prosecution in Ireland in 1994 on 27 charges of child rape and sexual abuse and has lived in America since 1995.
Irvin Muchnick, a Californian journalist, is suing the US Department of Homeland Security in an attempt to acquire Gibney’s immigration file to establish how he was allowed into America. Maureen O’Sullivan, an independent TD, has written to more than 100 members of the American Senate and Congress asking them to support the effort to gain access to Gibney’s file.
Muchnick had said he wants to find out if USA Swimming or the American Swimming Coaches Association supplied references supporting Gibney’s admission to America.
White, a former Liffey Swim champion and club coach, said last week he recalls a conversation he had with Gibney in early summer 1988 in advance of the Seoul Olympic Games. He said the conversation took place at Trojan swimming club in Blackrock, Dublin, where Gibney was the coach.
“It was in May or June,” White said. “We were meeting to discuss the Olympics and he told me he had applied for a lottery green card. To the best of my memory, he said he’d got one. It stuck in my mind because he had just bought a house near Loughlinstown at that time and I wondered why he would be thinking of emigrating to America.”
Between 1987 and 1990, 16,329 American visas were issued to randomly selected Irish applicants through one-off lottery schemes primarily designed to regularise the status of illegal Irish immigrants in America. The permits issued in 1988 were known as Donnelly visas, after congressman Brian Donnelly, who promoted the scheme.
Officially called the non-preference category five immigrant visa programme, it operated on a lottery basis. There were no requirements for special skills in short supply in America or for job offers from US employers. Applicants had to undergo interviews at the American embassy in Dublin and medical examinations, and the names of those deemed eligible were put in the lottery.
White’s complaint to gardai in October 1992 that Gibney began abusing him when he was 11 triggered the first of two criminal investigations into the former national coach.
After the prosecution collapsed and Gibney left Ireland, new complainants contacted gardai, sparking the second investigation, but the Director of Public Prosecutions decided against applying for Gibney’s extradition to face trial.
Nóirín O’Sullivan, the garda commissioner, ordered a review of the Gibney case last March after O’Sullivan raised it with Enda Kenny, the taoiseach, in the Dail.
White had hoped his allegations, which, he believes, did not form part of the 1990s prosecution, could be revived to form new charges against Gibney. He said he has “lost confidence” in the garda review as he has been waiting more than four months for a response from the officer leading the review as to the status of his complaints.