by Irvin Muchnick
As my Freedom of Information Act case in the American courts for more material on disgraced former Irish Olympic swim coach George Gibney continues in settlement discussions at the Ninth Circuit CCourt of Appeals, another sports sex abuse case has hit from Ireland. Tom Humphries, one of the country’s top sports journalists and book authors prior to the emergence of criminal allegations against him in 2011, has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison for grooming a girl from when she was 14 years old before sexually abusing her.
I thought it best to share the story with Concussion Inc. readers through the coverage of the Irish Times, the former employer of Humphries. Here’s the newspaper’s main news account: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/tom-humphries-jailed-for-2-years-for-grooming-and-sexual-abuse-of-girl-1.3266856.
Here’s a backgrounder on Humphries by Irish Times sports columnist Johnny Watterson: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/courts/district-court/tom-humphries-a-sports-writer-who-became-a-national-figure-1.3267087.
It should be noted that Watterson was a key reporter in the early stages of the George Gibney story (along with, of course, Justine McCarthy, then of the Irish Independent and now with the Sunday Times of London — author of the pathbreaking book Deep Deception: Ireland’s Swimming Scandals). Watterson has been a supporter of Concussion Inc.’s efforts to get to the bottom of the American side of the Gibney scandal, and in particular has spoken with me on how to develop our account of an underage molestation victim of Gibney’s from 1982 who recently came forward.
David Walsh of the Times of London, well known in the U.S. for his book on Lance Armstrong’s doping in the sport of cycling, was a friend of Humphries who has been criticized for a character reference for him during an earlier stage of the court proceedings. Here’s what the Irish Times wrote about that, including Walsh’s apology for “insensitive and ill-judged” comments in a 2012 radio interview: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/david-walsh-condemns-actions-of-tom-humphries-1.3267373.
One of Humphries’ important stories over the years also involved performance-enhancing drugs: the tainted 1996 Olympic gold medals of Irish swimmer Michelle Smith. As I’ve done in writing about U.S. Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Travis Tygart’s earlier work as a sex abuse cover-up lawyer for USA Swimming — a story no one in the mainstream has yet picked up — I’d like to suggest modestly to fellow journalists on the PED beat, who do valuable work in that area, that today there are more urgent human priorities than drug-cheating athletes.
And finally, lest we perpetuate the mistake of keeping invisible the lives of the people on the receiving end of these crimes, here is the Irish Times article headlined “Tom Humphries left victim feeling suicidal and suffering flashbacks”: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/tom-humphries-left-victim-feeling-suicidal-and-suffering-flashbacks-1.3267518.
Complete headline links to our nearly three years of Gibney coverage, which began in 2015, are at https://concussioninc.net/?p=10942.