“Lissenfield — Historic Irish Site Where Skeletal Remains Turned Up — May Be Key in Establishing Link Between 1986 Philip Cairns Disappearance and George Gibney’s Social Circles,” May 24, https://concussioninc.net/?p=14499
by Irvin Muchnick
The structural, almost blandly assumed system of cronyism in Ireland, tasked with greasing the convenience of the country’s powerful and well-connected after they do the worst things, is a theme with lasting consequences in the George Gibney story.
In order to fully comprehend as much, you need to go far beyond mere re-litigation of the dozens upon dozens, decades upon decades, of allegations of child sexual abuse by the former Irish Olympic swimming coach.
Today Gibney’s 25 years of safe harbor in the United States are threatened by a federal grand jury investigation of USA Swimming and by a concurrent probe at the Department of Justice’s Money Laundering & Asset Recovery Section (MLARS), under the direction of a prosecutor specializing in human trafficking. But there are things we already know about the odd procedural history of Gibney’s escape from justice, along with his enablers’ escape from accountability.
We know that in 1994, shortly before he was whisked across the Atlantic on a Donnelly diversity lottery visa, the Irish Supreme Court threw out Gibney’s 27-count indictment on the basis of a controversially parsed timing technicality. The panel for this ruling included the sister, Justice Susan Denham, of the coach’s lawyer, Patrick Gageby. At the time, such conflicts were regarded as routine enough to the Irish way so as not even to merit media mention. In 2016, an historical retrospective by the alternative news site Broadsheet would finally ring that bell of the Gibney story.
Other vagaries of process were well and contemporaneously remarked upon.
In 1998 the minister of sport, Jim McDaid, named a commission to report to the attorney general on the widespread sexual abuse in the country’s swimming programs under the auspices of the Irish Amateur Swimming Association (IASA). The commission was headed by Roderick Murphy, a justice of the High Court (the lower court in the Irish judicial system — not to be confused with the Supreme Court).
Journalist Justine McCarthy, then writing for the Irish Independent, commented:
“It is a conundrum which is still puzzling many lawyers. Why did the Government, knowing that senior counsel Dr Roderick Murphy had an extensive involvement in swimming, appoint him chairman of the inquiry into sexual abuse in the sport?
A Government spokesman has confirmed that, before announcing Dr Murphy’s appointment on February 10 last, the Government was aware of his membership of Glenalbyn Swimming Club, an affiliate of the Irish Amateur Swimming Association, falling within the jurisdiction of its Leinster branch. Both the IASA and the Leinster branch are specifically being investigated by Dr Murphy’s inquiry.
According to minutes of Glenalbyn meetings, Dr Murphy was a committee member of the club in 1991 when a coach was dismissed, three months after that coach told two club executives that he had been sexually abused by George Gibney[…]
[In addition,] Dr Murphy had once been a member of the controversial and influential Roman Catholic organisation, Opus Dei, and that his sister-in-law had worked on the committee which drew up the national guidelines on preventing sexual abuse in sport, The Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children’s Sport in Ireland.”
In that oh-so-Irish way, Murphy’s appointment was perhaps not so puzzling. The prompt for his commission had not been Gibney’s aborted prosecution — already, by then, ancient history. Rather, it was the guilty plea the previous year of another top coach, Derry O’Rourke, to charges of unlawful carnal knowledge, indecent assault, and sexual assault committed between 1976 and 1992. In the wake of O’Rourke’s sentencing, sport minister McDaid suspended IASA’s funding and named Murphy to formulate an accounting of the “adequacy of arrangements” and “procedures” in Irish swimming.
So what we were talking about here was not conflict of interest, but confluence of interest. That interest being the rebooting and rebranding of IASA. By explicit calculation, and over the protests of the community of victims and their families, Murphy’s charge did not include subpoena power or judicial teeth. “Justice” Murphy wasn’t really even an investigator. He was an aggregator. And a torchbearer.
(Justice Murphy is retired. I made attempts to solicit comment from him via messages sent through the Association of Judges of Ireland.)
Thus, when “the first named coach,” Gibney, and selected other individuals got tossed under the bus, it was an exercise of pure literary abstraction. By an elliptical reckoning with an awful legacy, IASA, presto, morphed into Swim Ireland.
No one who wasn’t tried in court — or as the case may be, not tried in court — lost a kickboard or a stopwatch, let alone an administrator’s privilege. Peter Banks, an old Gibney assistant, went back and forth, forth and back, here a U.S. Olympic coaching staff add-on, there a high performance director of Swim Ireland. Along the way, he was also on the payroll of John Leonard’s American Swimming Coaches Association, suspected of having engineered the coaching job offer letter that landed Gibney a USA Swimming coaching position in Colorado. (A redacted version of the letter was an output of my Freedom of Information Act case against the Department of Homeland Security.)
From an American perspective, the Murphy inquiry has one unmistakable utility: it says Gibney’s accusers were “vindicated” by the totality of evidence. While no substitute for a conviction in a court of law, it is nonetheless a government finding that he perpetrated sexual abuse of his young athletes on a wholesale scale.
When the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, in its wisdom, decreed that Gibney’s falsely rendered 2010 application for naturalized citizenship was not grounds for deportation, because he had never been convicted of the crime his application had concealed, that crime was not the indiscreet brandishing of a joint. It was sex crime against underage victims, serial, massive, across many years.
The Justice Department’s MLARS office wants to know what Gibney did with a Peruvian children’s medical mission, out of a Denver area Catholic parish, in the first years of his American hospitality. But the question of whether Gibney deserved such hospitality in the first place has never been an intellectually or morally serious one. It was simply another instance of crony in, crony out.
Full information on availability 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, https://concussioninc.net/?p=2326.