by Irvin Muchnick
A week ago today Concussion Inc. reported that prominent Irish-American swimming coach Peter Banks — a former assistant to George Gibney and someone suspected of having helped engineer Gibney’s American immigration while an official at the American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA) — had lost his coaching position at a swim club in Tampa following our inquiries.
We now can report that Banks went from Pipeline Swimming to the coaching staff at Berkeley Preparatory School in Tampa and its affiliated age-group USA Swimming club, the Berkeley Barracudas.
This reporter was tipped by a reader. The announcement of the hire of Banks is viewable at https://www.berkeleyprep.org/page/news-detail?pk=1193701&fromId=180326. The undated news release calls Banks someone with “a long and illustrious career as one of the most successful swim coaches at every level of competition.”
The school does not mention George Gibney or any controversy surrounding the new coach’s history with him.
In a telephone interview this morning, Berkeley Prep athletic director Bobby Reinhart said he knew Banks’s background in the sport but was unaware of Gibney or of a Banks association with him that would have impacted the hiring decision.
Last week the owner of Pipeline Swimming, Banks’s employer since he left Ireland in 2016 after serving as the national team head coach, told us that she had not responded to our requests, dating back to January, for her and Banks’s comments on the campaign to extradite and try Gibney on dozens of charges of sexual abuse — including his 1991 rape and impregnation of a teen swimmer while on a training trip in Tampa — because she was honoring Banks’s request not to respond. The owner, Rene Piper, said she was now communicating because Banks “is not affiliated with my swim team.”
Piper declined to elaborate on what had precipitated the cutting of ties with the coach, except to say that she coordinated it with the end of the summer long course swimming season so as to minimize disruption to Pipeline Swimming. Piper added that her unwillingness to comment further could change if Banks were “to break agreements we have.”
In a further email exchange earlier this week, after I said the cryptic nature of her statements invited responsible speculation under the circumstances, Piper replied, “That sounds fair.”
Berkeley Preparatory School issued the following statement through Jeremy Carmody, the director of communications:
“Berkeley Preparatory School’s number one priority is the emotional and physical safety of each child in our care. As we do with all employees, we executed a thorough background check on Mr. Banks, and spoke with references. We believe him to be an asset to our swimmers, and look forward to his work as one of the many assistant coaches in our program.”
Neither Carmody nor athletic director Reinhart responded when I pointed out, in a follow-up email query, that the statement did not address whether the school previously knew about the Banks-Gibney history and whether Berkeley Prep would direct Banks to answer questions surrounding his and ASCA’s possible role in Gibney’s hire by USA Swimming’s North Jeffco club in Arvada, Colorado, when he arrived in the U.S.
Gibney left the Colorado team following a new misconduct allegation there, which led to exposure in his new community of his Irish past. That interlude appeared to end Gibney’s coaching career. He was last located residing in Altamonte Springs, Florida.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), in a settlement last year of my Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for material from Gibney’s immigration file, acknowledged that Gibney had been denied naturalized U.S. citizenship when he applied in 2010. But even though records produced in the FOIA settlement indicate that the denial was based on his lying on his citizenship application about his 27-count indictment in Ireland for sex crimes, ICE said Gibney still was not subject to removal from this country, because he had never been convicted of a crime.
Irish legislator Maureen O’Sullivan has appealed to Congresswoman Jackie Speier, an unofficial watchdog of abuse in youth sports, to help reopen the matter of Gibney’s permanent residence status and coordinate the sharing with American law enforcement agencies of the criminal investigations of Gibney by the Irish national police, the Garda. Irish records include an affidavit by the 1991 Tampa rape victim, who subsequently was drugged by an Irish swimming official and taken to England for an abortion. A 1998 report by the Irish government’s Murphy Commission concluded that Gibney’s accusers “were vindicated” by the Garda’s assembled evidence.
In addition, O’Sullivan submitted a complaint about Gibney to the U.S. Center for SafeSport, which said it would investigate and, specifically, would seek information from the 1995 Arvada police report on Gibney. The Denver suburb’s city manager and police chief refuse to release the report.
Concussion Inc. will contact Berkeley Preparatory School’s headmaster, Joseph W. Seivold, with continuing questions about the silence of its new employee Peter Banks regarding George Gibney.