by Irvin Muchnick
As reported here on March 7, American Swimming Coaches Association executive director John Leonard made some surprising claims regarding George Gibney to Craig Lord of SwimVortex. In Lord’s words:
“Documents show that Leonard did indeed supply damning evidence to the potential employer, that Gibney was not employed as a result and that the Irishman took serious offence with ASCA when he found out.
Gibney contacted ASCA, after failing to get a job at a program in Colorado, to tell them they had ‘no legal basis’ to provide the material charting the very serious allegations against him in Ireland. Leonard’s response was ‘go ahead and sue me’, on the grounds that even if he had escaped Irish justice on ‘some technicality as his lawyer indicated’, there was serious doubt as to whether any American court would find against those seeking to warn a club employing children of the nature of allegations against a coach seeking a job.”
There are all kinds of reasons to be skeptical here. Leonard has been tight-lipped about Gibney for years, even for the 17 months since a senior federal judge, Charles R. Breyer, gave a boost to the prevailing theory of critics of the U.S. swimming establishment — USA Swimming as well as ASCA. The theory ranks ASCA as the No. 1 suspect for having “greased the wheels for Gibney’s relocation.” This is because Leonard has held forth for decades on the sexual abuse problem in swimming, and his take is not that far too many coaches have sexually abused far too many youth swimmers; rather, it is that adherence to anything less than criminal standards of “beyond a reasonable doubt” unfairly burdens coaches. Under Leonard, ASCA also offers a service for coaches to troubleshoot visas, and history shows that the reason some coaches cross national borders is to put distance between their careers and serious allegations against them.
On a personal level, and as Sarah Ehekircher revealed as part of her anecdotes of sexual harassment by Leonard during her time as an ASCA job applicant and then employee, he is full of bluster and bull-slinging. He told Ehekircher and others fish stories of his time as a three-figure-kill sniper in Vietnam. In actuality, Leonard was an Army Reservist at home. See https://concussioninc.net/?p=12680; https://concussioninc.net/?p=12724.
Finally, the set-up by SwimVortex is seriously off. Gibney didn’t not get a job in Colorado. Gibney got a job in Colorado, whether because of Gibney or through other circumstances. Or is Leonard implying that Gibney didn’t get a second job in Colorado because the ASCA boss put his foot down?
Enquiring minds want to know.
Therefore, I emailed Craig Lord and asked him to share the documents, or short of publishing them, “confirm that Leonard showed them to you and describe them in more specific and helpful ways than this self-conclusory characterization. Dates? To’s and from’s? Emails? Postal mail letters?”
Lord didn’t answer. But today he did reply to a follow-up.
“The documents were passed to me under certain provisions. I will think about your request,” Lord said.
An anxious swimming world waits.