P.S. 9/11/20, 5:00 a.m. Pacific Time
@irvmuch Those of you who read the misleading hype about George Gibney in Britain’s @guardian yesterday should read what I wrote in response. Guardian’s @bglendenning has not been heard from. https://concussioninc.net/?p=14576
@bglendenning Sorry, Irvin – only just seen this, so there’s nothing sinister about any silence on my part. Am currently in the middle of something that can’t wait but will read it more closely later. On the subject of inaccuracies, I should probably point out that I am not British.
@irvmuch 1/2 Thanks for that correction, Barry. Writing for a British newspaper is not the same as being British. I’ll make the change and I’ll look forward (cont.)
@irvmuch 2/2 And I’ll look forward to how you address your inaccurate characterization of my five and a half years of investigating the enabling of George Gibney by the Irish and American swimming establishments and governments. So sorry to impede on your busy schedule.
by Irvin Muchnick
After commenting on the launch episode of Where Is George Gibney?, the Anglo-Irish podcast series, I have been deliberate about not interjecting episode-by-episode reviews. My approach is to see what the crew from Second Captains comes up with in the whole package.
Irish friends tell me that a new generation of listeners is finding value and inspiration from the podcast’s oral histories of Gibney victims. If the punchline, seven weeks from now, turns out to be the extradition back to his native country of the former Irish Olympic swimming coach, or some other breakthrough in justice for Gibney and accountability for his institutional enablers, then I’ll be sure to join in applauding what producer Mark Horgan has achieved using the podcaster’s toolbox. (His tools include effects that could only be labeled “infotainment”: a music soundtrack and a contrived “stakeout” of Gibney in Altamonte Springs, Florida.)
I am not holding my tongue with respect to misstatements about me in the ongoing media hype of this BBC Sounds production.
Today brought an article in The Guardian in Britain, headlined “George Gibney can run from Ireland but his past will always find him.” The story is fine but for one sentence. Explaining that “Gibney might have escaped justice” but “fleeing his past has proved rather more difficult,” a reporter by the name of Barry Glendenning writes: “An American reporter by the name of Irv Muchnick … tried doggedly but ultimately unsuccessfully to have him deported from the United States.”
That is not accurate.
In 2015 I took the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to federal court, under the Freedom of Information Act, for the release of records and information from Gibney’s immigration files. After U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Breyer ruled in my favor the next year — adding the remark at the last hearing, “We’re not a refuge for pedophiles” — the case settled at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017.
In the settlement, the government supplemented previously released, though in many cases largely redacted, documents, such as a bizarre 1993 character reference for Gibney from an Irish police precinct, and a mysterious American coaching job offer letter. The latter was significant because Gibney did indeed coach here, for a USA Swimming club in the Denver suburb of Arvada, Colorado, before a murky new harassment allegation, combined with exposure of his Irish past, led to the evident end of his coaching career in 1995.
The government admitted two further facts. The first was that Gibney had entered this country on a so-called Donnelly “diversity lottery” visa. The second was that, after his 2010 application for naturalized citizenship got denied for lying on it about whether he had ever been charged with a crime, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency decided Gibney was still “not removable,” since he had never been convicted of a crime.
As a writer, I had no stated goal of getting Gibney deported. (For one thing, he could remain in the U.S. and be prosecuted here for his 1991 rape and impregnation of a 17-year-old swimmer with his Trojans club, out of Newpark Comprehensive School, during a training trip in Tampa, Florida.) Nor was I “ultimately unsuccessful,” at that imputed mission or anything else. As a result of the FOIA case, federal agents began revisiting the history of Gibney’s activities as a guest resident of the U.S. and examining whether some of those activities, such as a church-sponsored children’s eye clinic mission in Peru in which nefarious things might have happened, call for revoking his green card status. These agents are under the direction of the Department of Justice’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS) and Jane Khodarkovsky, an investigator who specializes in human trafficking finances.
And all this work has been in some coordination with a grand jury investigation, in the Southern District of New York, of USA Swimming’s possible criminal exposure for covering up dozens, scores, or hundreds of coach sexual abuse cases, and for hiding assets from civil lawsuit victims seeking monetary recoveries. Some of the financial irregularities surround a now-defunct USA Swimming subsidiary, the United States Sports Insurance Company, which was headquartered on the Caribbean island of Barbados.
Today’s Guardian writer seems to be echoing the regrettably imprecise words of Johnny Watterson of the Irish Times. In March 2018 Watterson wrote that I had “exhausted” my efforts “in the California [sic] courts.” In an email to me a few days later, Watterson apologized for characterizing my work “incorrectly,” as he put it. He acknowledged that I was not seeking Gibney deportation, per se, but rather ascertaining “the details of why, when, where and who got him to the US and those in US Swimming who helped him along the way and the broader implications of that in the US.”
The good news in the new Guardian article is that it’s more Gibney coverage. More Gibney coverage is a good thing. Additionally, the newspaper has an American edition and readership, which means a new range of coverage. I assure readers that any beef I might have with the Irish and British media is miniscule in comparison to my critique of the U.S. newspapers and broadcasters that continue to black out the cover-ups at USA Swimming and the American Swimming Coaches Association in general, and their role in the Gibney saga in particular.