by Irvin Muchnick
At youtu.be/2RyxMTx8Rnk, we have launched the YouTube stream of a 13-minute segment on George Gibney that was first broadcast on the program Prime Time, on Ireland’s RTÉ television network, on January 12, 2006. Thank you to Connor McDonald for the editing and production.
The video has surpassing significance during the pendency of my Freedom of Information Act case seeking additional material from the U.S. immigration files of the former Irish Olympic swimming head coach — arguably the most notorious child sex abuser in a sports world poisoned by too many of them. I prevailed last year in Muchnick v. Department of Homeland Security; the government’s appeal of Judge Charles Breyer’s decision at district court currently rests at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
As the world-wide Internet audience processes this newly surfaced video, Concussion Inc. will have additional interpretation and pointers. The RTÉ report is a chilling historical document, directly featuring the voices of Irish victims and journalists.
But for our purposes, I want to start at the end of the clip, where reporter Clare Murphy tracks down Gibney in Calistoga, California, one of the many stops on his Flying Dutchman tour of the United States. (He was most recently flagged in Altamonte Springs, Florida.)
In California, Prime Time talks with Captain John R. Robertson, operations chief of the Napa County Sheriff’s Office. Robertson says:
“This isn’t something we take lightly in the state of California or especially in the county of Napa. Our sheriff is very adamant about wanting to track these people.”
Reporter Murphy adds, “Local police take his presence so seriously that the area’s FBI field office has been informed.”
“We definitely hope that, if Mr. Gibney has committed these crimes, that he wouldn’t be a resident, or a citizen here of the United States. Until there is some information that is brought to our attention that leads us to believe that Mr. Gibney is guilty or suspected of improper behavior regarding sexual abuse or child abuse, then we are in a predicament that doesn’t allow us to enter him into Megan’s Law, it doesn’t allow us to investigate too much further. But we will share the information with the surrounding agencies. If we don’t turn anything up, we hope they can in Ireland.”
(Robertson is now the sheriff of Napa County. He told us this week, “I have no additional information to add” to his 2006 remarks.)
Prime Time’s throwaway line that Gibney had a “squeaky clean” record in America is debatable. In 2015 Commander Dave Pickett of the investigations bureau of the police department in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, gave us the following statement:
“On September 20th, 2000, the Wheat Ridge Police Department was notified that an alleged sex offender named George Gibney was living within our jurisdiction. Detective Lila Cohen investigated the situation. Detective Cohen contacted the reporting party (RP) who was the president of an accounting company that employed Gibney. Detective Cohen was told that:
* The RP had fired Gibney the day prior
* The RP had discovered concerning information regarding Gibney on the Internet
* Gibney had gone to Peru on behalf of a children’s eye clinic
* Gibney was on an advisory board for the Department of Youth Corrections
* Gibney may be a coach for the North Jeffco Swim Club
Detective Cohen notified the Arvada Police Department where the North Jeffco Swim Club is located. Sergeant Rzappa advised Detective Cohen that she had already received information concerning Gibney. Detective Cohen found that Gibney was on the advisory board of the Metropolitan State College Lab School at Lookout Mountain. Detective Cohen advised the person in charge of the Lab School regarding the allegations that Gibney was a sex offender. She also advised that the Wheat Ridge Police Department had no indications of specific allegations in Colorado.
Because there were no allegations regarding any crime in this jurisdiction, no investigation outside of notification was done.”
Jill McGranahan of the Arvada police then told us of an incident from five years before Gibney’s employer reported him to the Wheat Ridge police:
“In late October, 1995, the APD was notified by a citizen that Mr. Gibney was employed by the North Jeffco Parks and Recreation District, and that he had previously been accused of child abuse in Ireland. The APD confirmed that Mr. Gibney had been charged with child sexual abuse in Ireland, but that he was not convicted on any of the charges. During its investigation, the APD learned that Mr. Gibney was suspected of possibly pinching (or snapping the swimsuit of) a North Jeffco swimmer. The APD investigated this allegation, but was unable to establish that a crime had occurred. Shortly thereafter, the APD learned that Mr. Gibney was no longer employed by North Jeffco. The APD had no other involvement in this matter.”
In my FOIA case, the U.S. government’s Vaughn Index — a compilation of descriptions and privacy exemption claims for withheld documents — includes both a “law enforcement referral memorandum” and a “record of biometric background check prepared by Federal law enforcement.”
But the most pressing issue, moving forward, is what will happen with the campaign to bring Gibney to justice after the government’s FOIA appeal is resolved. Judge Breyer, in an October 2016 hearing, already raised penetrating questions about U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services procedures with respect to what the judge revealed was Gibney’s failed 2010 application for naturalized citizenship.
Many people, in and out of law enforcement, in Ireland and the U.S. alike, have had Gibney on watch lists, formal or otherwise, for a long time. The missing piece remains the revival of the 1990s prosecution of him in Ireland. The original prosecution collapsed thanks to a Supreme Court statute-of-limitations ruling that is not, to put it mildly, destined to go down in the annals of thoughtful jurisprudence: one of the sitting justices, Susan Denham (later the chief justice), did not recuse herself even though she was the sister of Gibney’s lawyer, Patrick Gageby.
Nearly a quarter of a century later, it is time to bring the Gibney nightmare to a close. It is time for the Irish Garda’s Director of Public Prosecutions to move purposefully on the call of Maureen O’Sullivan, a Teachta Dála (member of Parliament), to reconsider both the old criminal charges against Gibney and the many new ones on which information has emerged since he first got off the hook.
It is time for the American legislators most closely associated with awareness of sexual assault in general, and statutory solutions for the widespread problem of amateur sports coach sex abuse in particular, to step up to the plate and assist TD O’Sullivan in these efforts. The legislators I have in mind include Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congresswoman Jackie Speier.
Finally, it is time to hold accountable whoever in the American swimming establishment might have been responsible for enabling Gibney’s long safe harbor here.
The ugly truth is that George Gibney is no longer just another name in the half-buried history of the dark side of youth sports. He is, officially, a two-nation affair of state.
Chronological links to our series, which began January 27, 2015, under the headline “Why Is George Gibney — No. 1 At-Large Pedophile in Global Sports — Living in Florida? And Who Sponsored His Green Card?”: https://concussioninc.net/?p=10942