BREAKING: Significant Progress in the Two-Continent Fight to Bring Rapist Irish Olympic Swim Coach George Gibney to Justice

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October 18, 2015

by Irvin Muchnick


Oireachtas Deputy (Irish Parliament member) Maureen O’Sullivan has told Concussion Inc. that important new legal research buttresses the efforts there to get the director of public prosecutions (D.P.P.) to reopen proceedings against George Gibney — the former Irish national swim teach coach who is named in literally dozens of allegations of molesting underage athletes in his charge, and who has been living as a resident alien in the United States since the mid-1990s.

The information from O’Sullivan comes as I remain optimistic about my Freedom of Information Act litigation in federal court to force the Department of Homeland Security to release scores of pages from the file on Gibney which is being kept by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The file is acknowledged to include records from law enforcement agencies. More below on this aspect of the story.

Upon being told by the designated point person for the Garda, the Irish national police, that finding justification for revisiting the Gibney matter would be an uphill fight, O’Sullivan commissioned legal research on Irish Supreme Court cases bearing on prosecutorial discretion in sex crimes from the distant past. We’ll publish the full research at a later date. Here are some highlights:

  • In a 1997 case, the court held that while a long delay in bringing charges was on its face “inordinate,” child sexual abuse constitutes a special and challenging category of cases. The court must balance “the Accused person’s rights with the community’s right to have the offences prosecuted.”
  • In 2006, the court held that in weighing a long delay, the core factor is not simply that there was a delay, but rather “the consequences of delay.” The key in these special circumstances is whether a delay, for any reason, fundamentally prejudices the right of the accused to a fair trial.
  • Generally, the burden is on the accuser to show that a fair trial can proceed despite a delay. However, in that 2006 case, S.H. v. D.P.P. — which involved a 40-year gap between alleged criminal acts and their prosecution — the court signaled an important shift in its approach to complainant delay. And the D.P.P. enjoys broad discretion in making such determinations.

Deputy O’Sullivan asked me if I thought it might make a difference if the victim of Gibney’s 1991 rape of her in a Florida hotel could travel to the U.S. to lodge charges here. Previously, this had not been considered an option because the woman has been an off-and-on psychiatric hospital patient and in no position to undertake such a step. I told O’Sullivan there was no doubt that a complaint by the woman to Tampa police would be a game-changer in the Gibney story.

If the woman’s family and community supporters could pull this off, I would hope that women’s groups and anti-rape advocates in this country, along with American media and concerned politicians, would help with logistics pointing to a good outcome. So far they have ignored Concussion Inc.’s reporting and my FOIA litigation, presumably because coach rape doesn’t poll as well as the trendier and more elitist issue of campus sexual assault and harassment. These politicians include Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California, the Democrats’ supposed amateur sports abuse watchdog, and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee, in whose district have resided such well-known swim coach abusers as the late Hall of Famer Jack Nelson (high school coach of open-water legend Diana Nyad) and international human trafficker Alex Pussieldi (who has fled back to his native Brazil, where he is a celebrated television commentator).

In my case, there continue to be fruitful discussions between the U.S. attorney’s office in San Francisco and my attorney Roy S. Gordet concerning the government’s voluntary disclosure of more information and documents about Gibney’s visa application and related documents. At a case management conference last week, Judge Charles Breyer set a briefing schedule for the coming weeks and oral arguments in January.


Chronological headline links to Concussion Inc.’s coverage of George Gibney are at

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick