PREVIOUS INSTALLMENTS OF THIS REVIEW SERIES:
by Irvin Muchnick
Amplifying our report yesterday, here is what the Arvada (Colorado) police department told us on February 27, 2015:
“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.”
On March 21, 2018, Arvada gave us a somewhat more detailed synopsis:
“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.”
The police department in a neighboring Denver suburb, Wheat Ridge, produced two reports on Gibney. The first, in 1998, was not preserved, the department said on March 4, 2015:
“…Our records show that we contacted Mr. Gibney in our case 98-3718 titled as an Assist that occurred on or about Feb. 21, 1998. Unfortunately, we no longer have that case report on file. Per the Colorado Retention Schedule at that time, non-criminal reports were destroyed at the five year mark (2003). The only information in the name index for Mr. Gibney is that he is listed as a person in the 1998 report. We did not transition to computer records until January 2000.”
On March 3, 2015, the Wheat Ridge police did release a report from September 20, 2000. Here is the full text (with my decision to redact the name of the informant):
“On September 20, 2000, Sergeant David Goracke received a phone call from xxxxx, reference some strong information concerning an alleged pedophile living in Wheat Ridge. Sergeant Goracke forwarded the information to me.
I called xxxxx back and learned that she was an employer to a man named George Gibney. She advised that while she was on the internet she tripped onto some information about George Gibney that was very concerning to her and she thought I should know about. xxxxx advised that George Gibney used to be an Olympic Swim Coach in Ireland but was arrested or charged with sexually assaulting children there and then came to the United States. xxxxx said she used to be a swim coach as well and this is how she got to know George better.
xxxxx said she fired George Gibney the day prior to this call because he lied to her. She said he was working as a temporary employee for her company and then, after getting to know George, she hired him full time. She said one of the things they had in common is that they were both swim coaches for children.
xxxxx advised that she knew that Gibney went to Peru on behalf of an eye clinic for children. She said Gibney works with children in his parish and is a volunteer in Golden at a Youth Detention Center. xxxxx further advised that the internet articles she read said he also coached the North Jeffco Swim Club in Colorado. xxxxx said the articles she found on the internet were on Google under Gibney. She said she found further information in Irish Times.com and Ireland.com. She said she thought Gibney was the director of an Advisory Board for the Youth Department of Corrections. She said he is also the Chairman of the International Peru Eye Clinic Foundation.
xxxxx advised that Gibney and his wife adopted an African girl who is now on the Irish Olympic Swim Team and is currently competing in the Olympics.[…] xxxxx said she knows that George has a brother who is a professor at Trinity College.
I told xxxxx that I had been sent articles last year concerning Gibney and concerns that he lived in our city at that time. I told her that he did not have to register as a sex offender and that he had not committed any crimes here that I knew of. I did tell her that I was very concerned that Gibney was working with children, especially children with issues such as being in detention or having eye problems. I further advised her that I was concerned that Gibney may travel with children in his parish to Peru. xxxxx did not know the church Gibney belonged to. She agreed to send me the information she located on the internet.
I attempted to find an advisory board through the Youth Department of Corrections but it is a State run agency and therefore does not have one. I called Lookout Mountain and was told the same. I know the members on the board for the Jefferson County Juvenile Assessment Center and Gibney is not on that. I called Arvada Police Department concerning the North Jeffco Swim Club and received a call back from Sergeant Jo Ann Rzeppa advising that she had investigated those allegations in 1995 and did not learn of any victims.
xxxxx advised that Gibney had access to a computer at work and when he was fired he was escorted to the door and did not have access to the computer. She asked if I wanted to come out and have someone look at it. I told her that I would have to send it to CBI [Colorado Bureau of Investigation] and she would be without it for several months as it would take low priority because a crime did not exist at this time. xxxxx said she could be cooperative but she could not be without a computer for that long. She said she would have her computer expert check it and get back to me.
xxxxx told me that the place Gibney volunteers with young people is at the Lab School at Lookout Mountain. She said Bill Weiner is in charge of that and gave me his phone number, [….] She said Gibney is on the board for the Metropolitan State College Lab School at Lookout Mountain. On October 5, 2000, I called and spoke with Bill Weiner who advised that George Gibney is in fact on that board. I told him that Gibney had not committed a crime here that I knew of but had some information he should be aware of if Gibney was having contact with kids. He provided me his address and I mailed him a copy of the information given to me by xxxxx.
Nothing further to report at this time.”