by Irvin Muchnick
In 1992 Irish swimming coach Frank McCann burned down his house. It was his fourth, and this time successful, attempt to kill his wife Esther and their 18-month-old daughter Jessica. McCann chose multiple murder over disclosing that he had fathered a child by one of his swimmers, who was 17.
McCann is back in the news because, after two decades of incarceration for his crime, he has begun pre-release vocational training and supervised time out from Arbour Hill Prison. The Irish Independent reports that Esther McCann’s sister is fearful for the safety of the rest of the family. See https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/if-my-sisters-killer-is-released-ill-have-to-look-over-my-shoulder-man-who-murdered-wife-and-child-due-for-release-36558902.html.
In his 2016 decision in my Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for George Gibney’s American immigration records, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer recounts the sordid history of sexual abuse in Irish swimming. This includes the stories of McCann and Derry O’Rourke; the latter pleaded guilty to 29 criminal counts of abuse in 1998.
“George Gibney,” Breyer wrote, “got away.” In my recent settlement of the FOIA case at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the American government conceded that Immigration and Customs Enforcement supplied a memorandum in 2010 stating that Gibney could not be removed from the country even though he had lied in his citizenship application that year about his own 27-count indictment in Ireland in 1993 for illicit sexual relations with minors.
The Gibney-McCann connection gets worse. As president of the Leinster Branch of the Irish Amateur Swimming Association, McCann was told of Gibney’s abuse of Chalkie White, by White. Later another coach, Carol Walsh, brought the same information to McCann.
According to the news site Broadsheet.ie, Walsh said McCann told Walsh to back off. McCann also said “he hoped to fuck [the Gibney story] wouldn’t break while he was president.”