Yesterday Concussion Inc. announced the Friday, March 1, publication of THE GEORGE GIBNEY CHRONICLES: What the Hunt For the Most Notorious At-Large Sex Criminal in the History of Global Sports Has Told Us About the Sports Establishments and Governments on Two Continents. The 30,000-word ebook is available for $3.49 US at amzn.to/2SmUl6c . Anyone without a Kindle-compatible device can receive an emailed PDF copy by remitting $3.49 via PayPal to [email protected].
Today we offer a preview of the THE GEORGE GIBNEY CHRONICLES with the ebook Table of Contents and Introduction.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I George Gibney Rapes and Impregnates One of His Swimmers on a 1991 Training Trip in Tampa, Florida
II An Irish Supreme Court Chief Justice Who Helped George Gibney Get Off the Hook in 1994 Is the Sister of Gibney’s Lawyer
III Clear As Mud: The Murphy Inquiry
IV George Gibney Scores a Golden Winning Ticket in the Donnelly Diversity Lottery Visa
V The American Job Offer Letter – And the Probable Enabling Role of the American Swimming Coaches Association in George Gibney’s Quarter Century of Safe Harbor
VI George Gibney in Colorado
VII 2010: Irish-American Activist Evin Daly Forces George Gibney’s Hand
VIII The FOIA Case Exposes the U.S. Government’s Fumble and Double-Talk – ‘We’re Not a Refuge For Pedophiles’
IX What the Irish Government Is Doing, Or Not Doing
X Ireland Teachta Dála Maureen O’Sullivan and the American Politicians
XI ‘U.S. Center for SafeSport’ Has Its Usual Murky Role
XII American Media: Missing in Action
XIII George Gibney Coaching Protégé Peter Banks Again Relocates to the U.S., And American Swimming Coaches Association Boss John Leonard’s Swimming Media Lackey Closes Up Shop
XIV Chalkie White and the Problem of ‘Ambivalent’ Victims
XV Bringing It All Home
APPENDIX A “Five Things You Should Know About Youth Sports Coach Sex Abuse,” December 11, 2017, https://concussioninc.net/?p=12358
APPENDIX B “Unreasonable Delay: Reprint of Irish News Site Broadsheet’s Timeline on Rapist Irish Olympic Swimming Coach George Gibney and His More Than Two Decades As a Guest of the American Government,” May 3, 2016, https://concussioninc.net/?p=11046
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
THIS EBOOK IS PROMPTED by what, at the time of publication, is serious movement on deporting George Gibney, the 1984 and 1988 Irish Olympic swimming head coach, who has been hiding in plain sight in the United States for almost a quarter of a century. In his native country, should he be extradited for trial as well as deported, he would face targeted charges from a universe of more incidents of child sexual assault than we may ever know. Though the ranking of monsters is a useless convention, I am confident in tagging him, at a moment of heightened awareness of abuse in all walks of life, as the most notorious criminal, ever, anywhere, of his type and in his genre.
And a global story the Gibney saga is – one with some direct paths to my baseline interest in reporting sports corruption, plus some curlicues away from it. Wholesale abusers, like others, “act local but think global”; they are enabled by social and professional networks, some obvious, some not.
I have been on the Gibney trail since 2015. Though the ongoing agony of his countless victims has been a serial front-page story in Ireland, it has made nary a ripple in the news media on our side of the Atlantic. Perhaps Clint Eastwood can make a movie about it some day and make us all feel better. In the meantime, the culmination contemplated by this repurposing of real-time blog content from my website ConcussionInc.net is the direct result of findings from my 2017 settlement of a Freedom of Information Act case against the Department of Homeland Security for information and records from Gibney’s immigration file. I’ll be referring throughout to the “FOIA.”
What needs to be explained with care next is the limited extent of what can be responsibly revealed about the current state of the U.S. government investigation of Gibney’s paradoxical protected status. (He was barred from citizenship in 2010 because he lied on his application by failing to disclose his 27-count indictment in Ireland in 1993, yet somehow he was deemed “not removable” on the basis of not having been convicted of a crime in a court of law.) The outcome of this effort, within a vast bureaucracy in a time of political division over almost everything, is not a sure thing. In the wake of repeated dashed hopes across many years, Irish readers in particular are entitled to their continued skepticism of my own new optimism.
That being said, sources I find highly credible tell me that the current hot government investigation is much more than blandly “aspirational.” In publishing this ebook, my judgment is that dragging the feds’ current work into the light of day in this limited way seems likelier to inspire a good end game than relying on the same secrecy playbook that heretofore allowed Gibney’s crimes to remain buried.
So let’s call this piece an exercise in educated prediction. Based on what I have been told, I am saying 2019 will be the year of reckoning. The facts and commentary herein backfill why.
My government sources characterize the Gibney aspect of their investigation as its caboose, not its locomotive. In other words, what brings matters to this pass is no newly aggressive or honorable processing of the disgrace of the Olympic movement and of the U.S. government in the comings and goings of this particular character. The tipping point, rather, is the unfolding of widespread abuse scandals in these “amateur” sports under the catchphrase “post-Nassar.” Exposure of the hundreds or thousands of heinous acts committed by Dr. Larry Nassar under the auspices of USA Gymnastics synergized with the #MeToo movement to cast a net around many related narratives I and other journalists have been chipping away at for years. Gibney’s is simply one of them (albeit one whose neglect to date has been on a scale equal to the years of lookaway passes given to Nassar’s crimes).
As the sharks circle, Gibney, in his eighth decade of life, is finally chum in the water.
This ebook intends not history but historiography – the meta-history of the discovery of one particular branch of abuse, from one tree, falling in the forest with no one hearing it (or at least so pretending). There is no ambition of comprehensiveness here. There is no classic narrative. I do not represent anyone’s perspective on these matters other than my own. I do happen to believe my information and perspective are instructive.
I will not waste bandwidth, nor feed the maw of salaciousness, by parsing all the forensics of all the cases. I will not attempt to persuade you that a certain one of them, or their accumulation, crossed some objective threshold of sensationalism or outrage or urgency. Somewhere around, oh let’s say April 30, 1945, the crimes against humanity of the native Austrian named Adolphus Hitler passed into the collective conscience, without the need for much more than a clerical or documentary review of the impending proceedings at Nuremberg. Similarly, somewhere around the publication of the Irish government’s elliptical 1998 Murphy Commission report, which called Gibney “the first named coach” whose accusers “were vindicated,” the same could be said for the superfluousness of any possible revival of his abortive 1993-94 criminal prosecution.
Thus, previously apathetic news outlets interested in picking up on this material are invited to insert the “allegedly”s in accordance with their own standards, along with production values. Inevitably, the latter will include someone tracking down Gibney in some parking lot in Florida and sticking a microphone in his face. There are two sides to every story, you know. Even the one in which the accused sex abuser skates on a technicality, gains safe haven in a new country, and stays there a long time by breaking the immigration rules and lying.
Some of Gibney’s victims are on record saying they do not want the redundant trauma promised by a trial and whatever too-little-too-late justice it might mete out; they are at peace with the closure they have granted themselves internally, or at any rate they are certain that their peace level consequently would go down, not up. As I will elaborate – perhaps controversially but I hope not callously – I do not at this juncture regard as dispositive the wish lists of survivors. This many years later, victims deserve our respect, support, and measured deference. They do not, however, wield veto power over the forward-facing public interest. And to assert as much is not to re-victimize them.
I do agree that this project, at bottom, is not about justice, with either a small or a capital “J.” It is about accountability. The bells of accountability toll for, among others:
The earlier failure to pounce on Gibney in the U.S. has had generic causes: the greed and indifference of top sports officials; the tendency toward denial of the sports community at large; skewed priorities and laziness; absence of an arresting media hook, such as an accuser whose picture has been on a Wheaties box. In Ireland, several intrepid journalists affiliated with leading newspapers put the Gibney story on the map, early and often, right after the country’s top swimmer of the period, Gary O’Toole, put his prestige on the line and crafted a way to canvass testimony from numerous victims and transmit it to An Garda Síochána, the national police. (O’Toole was not himself a victim, though he recalled one close call in his youth.)
These Irish journalists – principally Justine McCarthy, now with London’s Sunday Times, and Johnny Watterson, now with the Irish Times – deserve special commendation. As we’ll see, they’ve had limitations, too, warranting an explanation of their more challenging journalistic culture, which made it impossible for them to coax this story across the finish line.
First and foremost is a different legal landscape. Ireland’s defamation laws are “draconian and censorious,” as a friend over there put it to me. This is not to say that American journalism counterparts have done that much better with the blessings of the First Amendment and the Supreme Court’s New York Times v. Sullivan decision. But we do seem to have a superior toolbox.
Second, Ireland is a small, intimate place with unique and historically rooted dysfunctions. Another Irish friend put it to me this way when I was first jumping into the Gibney story:
“Ireland is corrupt, a country rife with cronyism. That is the backdrop for understanding how things operate here. A telecom billionaire, Dennis O’Brien, gets his license by bribing the minister of communications, and then, when this gets revealed in the Moriarity report, threatens to sue all the congress members over another issue. It’s a lesson in how things work. There are few consequences from official investigations. It’s sickening but the Irish let this happen.”
Again, I don’t think the state of the American nation today provides a platform for a sermon on corruption. But this is what the man said, and I think he’s right.
Third, Ireland has levels of institutional abuse fatigue that Americans are only beginning to approach. The Catholic Church scandals cast a cloud over the less than a quarter of the population here who practice that faith. But on the Emerald Isle, the Church has been the spiritual company store.
Fourth and last, Irish journalists developed direct, personal bonds with victims from the beginning. Today these writers and the people whose travails they write about have much more than a chronicler-source relationship; they are brothers and sisters in combat, and in some cases near-lifelong friends. So my fellow scribes there can be excused for more thoroughly indulging these survivors of post-traumatic stress disorder as they weave on and off the record, and from one agenda in the Gibney matter to another. I too have communicated with some Gibney victims and their families (including one newly emerging victim just two years ago from a molestation episode 35 years earlier). But it’s not the same. They are not my neighbors. For me, functionally, they are witnesses to a transcontinental pathology that has reached my shores in a new context, demanding new questions and answers.
The victim-deference factor will forevermore be the existential fault line of sexual abuse scenarios. These are events with high stakes for public health; they include perpetuated cycles of shame, esteem harm, substance abuse, more abuse passed along by perverse muscle memory, and the occasional explicitly suicidal dead end. Normal adjudication is crippled by the existence of only two direct witnesses: the perpetrator and the victim. Yet the heinousness of the crime and its reverberations across generations demand a rough adjudication, a better hearing in the court of public opinion, regardless of what happens in the courts of law.
My hope is that this slender volume will, in ways orthodox and otherwise, contribute to a better conclusion to the George Gibney horrors.
BEFORE TURNING TO CHAPTER I, some readers might want to go to the last chapter, with the background of my involvement in all this, and the two Appendices articles. The Appendices are intact reprints of Concussion Inc. blog content that has withstood the passage of time. The first is my essay, published right after the 2017 settlement of my FOIA case, on takeaways from the youth sports coach abuse problem. The second is the Irish news site Broadsheet.ie’s 2016 chronology of all things Gibney.