“As Questions Persist Over Hire of George Gibney by North Jeffco Hurricanes — And the Role of the American Swimming Coaches Association — Let’s Review the 1995 and 2000 Reports on Gibney by Suburban Denver Police Departments,” March 14, https://concussioninc.net/?p=12721
“Colorado Cop Who Investigated George Gibney in 1995 Was the Mother of a Swimmer in His North Jeffco Program: Sources,” March 19, https://concussioninc.net/?p=12741
“Colorado Park & Rec Lawyer Says We Don’t Know Anything About George Gibney … or Ken ‘Kelly’. Concussion Inc. Responds,” March 20, https://concussioninc.net/?p=12749
by Irvin Muchnick
The police of Arvada, Colorado, continue to turn away Concussion Inc.’s request for release of a mysterious 1995 report on George Gibney, which is becoming swimming’s answer to the Steele dossier.
In the new police account, the report may been part of the process of bouncing him from a coaching job at USA Swimming’s North Jeffco club in that Denver suburb. But it also appeared to have no other goal or outcome. Such as, you know, protecting the community from Gibney’s acquisition of other positions giving him close access to minors for at least five more years.
Yesterday a spokesperson for acting chief Edward Brady issued a statement supplementing a synopsis of the report that had been provided to me in 2015. The police insisted that the report itself must remain confidential under Colorado law because it is “a report of child abuse.”
Yet the spokesperson, Jill McGranahan, proceeded to say something close to the opposite: “the APD investigation was not triggered by a complaint.”
So which is it? A report of child abuse? Or just a bunch of … stuff?
The statement saved until the last paragraph the task of addressing the headline of our story three days ago — that Irish and American sources say now-retired Sergeant Jo Ann Rzeppa, author of the 1995 report, was conflicted in her assignment because she had a kid at the North Jeffco program:
“Detective Rzeppa’s investigation was not unethical, nor did it violate any department rule, procedure, or applicable law. Any implication otherwise is simply false. Although the question of whether Detective Rzeppa has children is irrelevant, you should be aware that she was divorced at the time of her investigation; she does not have any children.”
There’s a lot to unpack from this statement (whose full text is at the bottom of this article).
Last things first: Why the carefully parsed disclaimer (which, unnecessarily and bizarrely, includes a reference to Rzeppa’s marital status)? If our report of the detective’s connection to the swim team was so off base, then why not just say so when we first queried the department? Why “bury the lede,” when the attack on the accuracy of our reporting could have been the first thing out of the box?
My best guess at this point is that this verbiage could be calculated to leave open the possibility that there was a Rzeppa stepchild or the child of a boyfriend; or perhaps that she “does not” have children but at one time did. All I can tell Concussion Inc. readers is what I told McGranahan: An Irish source, who I believe is the journalist from 1995 cited in the new police statement, recently told me that Rzeppa “was both a cop and a member of the swimming club.” When I pressed for details, the source added, “I recall she said she had kids who swam there. I can’t remember if she said they were members of the club or that they simply used the facility.”
I then spoke to an American source who is an expert on Gibney history, and this person told me, “The woman in question had a son who swam for the team, thus I would think the kid was a member.”
I asked McGranahan to fully clarify this — beyond the conclusory line that Rzeppa’s investigation “was not unethical, nor did it violate any department rule, procedure, or applicable law.” And while she was at it, I asked McGranahan to explain what the hell the disclosure that Rzeppa is divorced — a non sequitur invasion of privacy — has to do with whether she had a kid on the North Jeffco team 23 years ago.
There are many other far-from-settled assertions in the police statement. At the top of the list is the supposed protected status of the 1995 report.
McGranahan chided my fuzzy language about a police claim of “an exemption under Colorado public records law,” rather than the affirmative provision of confidentiality of this type of document under Title 19 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. However, the effect on a public records request is no different.
The Arvada department can claim that the withheld document is “a report of child abuse” or, if you will, “related to” such a report. But will the courts ratify such an attenuated application of a law clearly intended to protect abuse victims and the sources and methods of criminal abuse investigations? I would contend that Title 19 of C.R.S. is in no way on the books for the purpose of facilitating a self-serving cover-up of important history on the quarter-century-long harboring in the United States of the most notorious at-large sex criminal in sports.
Some other bullets arising out of the Arvada police statement:
The most alarming output of APD’s combined statements at this point is that there is no indication anywhere of a meritorious child safety or public safety mission, beyond getting Gibney booted from the North Jeffco swim program. (The 2015 synopsis said, “No further action was taken.”) As Concussion Inc.’s three-plus years of reporting have established, Gibney would live in Greater Denver for at least five more years, until at least 2000, when an employer discovered his background, fired him, and reported him to the nearby Wheat Ridge police. During that time, Gibney appears to have maintained scary access to children, as a board member of a program for at-risk youth associated with the state government, and as chair of a local church’s eye clinic mission in Peru.
I wonder, in what specific respects, the Arvada Police Department believes it performed well in all this. I’ll be persisting in the effort to find out via the still-suppressed Rzeppa report. Anyone wondering about the seriousness of our project should check out Muchnick v. Department of Homeland Security, which settled last year at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, a year after U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Breyer ruled “(mostly) in Muchnick’s favor.”
What Judge Breyer said in October 2016 bears reiteration:
“Muchnick … suspects that the American Swimming Coaches Association greased the wheels for Gibney’s relocation.”
“We’re not a haven for pedophiles.”
ARVADA POLICE STATEMENT
This is to respond to your March 18, 2018 questions and request for records from the Arvada Police Department (“APD”). As you were previously advised in March 2015, to the extent your letter includes a request for records, the records you have requested are subject to Title 19 of the Colorado Revised Statutes (“C.R.S.”), also known as the Colorado Children’s Code (“Children’s Code”).
Rules regarding release of reports related to child abuse are set forth in the Children’s Code at C.R.S. 19-1-307(1)(a). These records are not “exempted” from Colorado public records laws as you state in your e-mail. They are, instead, subject to Title 19 records release rules. Under the statute, reports of child abuse are confidential and are not public information. As such, the APD will not release the report you have requested. Though the report is not releasable, the following information may be of interest.
The synopsis provided to you in 2015 by the APD is correct. As we have noted before, the APD investigation was not triggered by a complaint; it was triggered by a citizen who became aware of Mr. Gibney’s background in Ireland and made the APD aware of it. We can tell you that Detective Rzeppa’s report documents an extensive investigation during which she did contact law enforcement officials in Ireland. She also spoke with at least one Irish investigative reporter about what happened in Ireland, and reviewed information sent to her by that reporter. Detective Rzeppa also did, in fact, go to the office of Immigration and Naturalization Service in Aurora, Colorado and speak with an INS investigator. This investigator informed her that unless Mr. Gibney had been convicted of crimes “involving moral turpitude” prior to his entry and had not disclosed them on his application, Mr. Gibney was probably not in violation of INS laws.
Detective Rzeppa also met with or interviewed North Jeffco Parks and Recreation District administrators, employees, and swim team parents about this matter. No one Detective Rzeppa spoke with, including family members of the swim team, described any criminal interaction between Gibney and a swimmer. Though there had been no specific allegations against Gibney during his time at North Jeffco, the information regarding Gibney’s background was so concerning that the group was advised of his history as reported to the APD. Ultimately, Detective Rzeppa continued the investigation, but was unable to establish probable cause that Gibney committed a crime in Arvada.
Detective Rzeppa’s investigation was not unethical, nor did it violate any department rule, procedure, or applicable law. Any implication otherwise is simply false. Although the question of whether Detective Rzeppa has children is irrelevant, you should be aware that she was divorced at the time of her investigation; she does not have any children. The APD will advise Sergeant Rzeppa (now retired) of your inquiry and the article you published online yesterday. She may choose to contact you, or not, at her sole discretion.