by Irvin Muchnick
At the request of Irish legislator Maureen O’Sullivan, the U.S. Center for SafeSport has opened an investigation of George Gibney, the 1984 and 1988 Irish Olympic head swimming coach who has been called “the most notorious at-large sex criminal in global sports” in a series of articles that began at Concussion Inc. in 2015 and has encompassed a successful Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the federal government for release of some of Gibney’s immigration records and history.
The SafeSport Center’s investigation begins as O’Sullivan engages with American politicians closely identified with the youth sports coach abuse issue in this country — principally Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California.
This development also coincides with Congressional hearings this week in which Tim Hinchey, CEO of USA Swimming, and other national sport governing body heads and Olympic officials are being called on the carpet after the scandal of Larry Nassar, the prolific molester doctor of USA Gymnastics, raised the problem to its highest profile yet.
In a May 7 letter to O’Sullivan, the SafeSport Center’s Jocelyn Shafer confirmed that it was undertaking the investigation that had been requested by the member of the Dáil Éireann, Ireland’s principal legislative chamber, where she represents the Dublin Central district. Shafer said the investigation was being overseen Malia Arrington, the center’s chief operating officer under CEO Shellie Pfohl.
Shafer said she was in contact with the police department in Arvada, Colorado, where Gibney coached a USA Swimming club in 1995, “and am hopeful they will provide us with more information.”
Concussion Inc. has written extensively about the 1995 Arvada police report, which the local government has twice described but refuses to publicly release.
In an email today responding to some of the first questions of the investigation, O’Sullivan noted to Shafer and Arrington that Gibney in 1993 was charged in Ireland with 27 allegations of indecent carnal knowledge of minors. At the Irish Supreme Court, O’Sullivan wrote, Gibney “got off on a technicality, regarding ‘time lapse’, a technicality which would not be accepted today.”
“In 2003 there was a further criminal investigation which our police authorities were confident would proceed but very unfortunately no prosecutions were directed. This led to a suicide attempt by one of his victims. That victim had also alleged rape by him at their Florida training camp in 1991; following which she was brought to England, by an official in swimming here in Ireland, for a termination.”
In 1995 this victim’s parents met Irish swimming officials and gave a written statement. The victim herself gave a lengthy statement to the Irish police two years ago.
In 1998, O’Sullivan said in her email to the SafeSport Center, the Irish government’s Murphy Commission “found that George Gibney’s accusers were vindicated by the evidence assembled by our policing.”
“He has been in the U.S. since the mid to late 90’s; we know he coached in Arvada, Colorado. We know he was a board member of a programme for youth at risk and was chair of a church’s eye clinic mission in Peru.
We know our police expressed concerns to U.S. authorities in ’95, ’98 and 2001.
We also know that he applied for U.S. citizenship in 2010 but this was rejected because he had lied on his application [as shown by investigative journalist Irvin Muchnick’s FOIA case with Judge Charles R. Breyer in U.S. District Court in California].
While my country has a lot of questions to answer we believe so has the U.S. Who facilitated him into the U.S. in the first place; what type of visa did he have; how was he offered employment in the U.S.; why is he allowed continued residency in the U.S. particularly as his application for citizenship was denied.Did the American Swimming Coaches Association assist him in re-locating to the U.S?”
O’Sullivan cited the 2008 Mutual Assistance Act between the U.S. and the European Union, whose Article 13 could be used by authorities to document Gibney’s crimes and “finally bring justice to George Gibney’s victims.”
O’Sullivan concluded, “I do hope that, at the very least, you could get the information on why he is still allowed live and work in the U.S.”