When George Gibney Lived in Colorado (And Even Coached Swimming There), Two Suburban Denver Police Departments Learned All About Him. They Kicked the Can Down the Road.

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September 23, 2020
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PREVIOUSLY:

“George Gibney Didn’t Vanish (full text from the Irish news site Broadsheet),” August 27, https://concussioninc.net/?p=14564

“No, Britain’s Guardian Newspaper — I Didn’t ‘Try Unsuccessfully to Have George Gibney Deported From the United States.’ Also, There’s No Past Tense About It.,” September 9, https://concussioninc.net/?p=14576

“George Gibney’s Family and Friends in High Places: Still the Elephant in the Room of Anglo-Irish Media Coverage of the ‘Vanished’ Sex Criminal Irish Olympic Swimming Coach,” September 13, https://concussioninc.net/?p=14585

“Anglo-Irish Media’s George Gibney Stench Gets Worse: Celebrated Editor of Irish Times Was Father of Supreme Court Justice Who Helped Gibney Escape Justice (Also, of Course, Father of Gibney’s Lawyer),” September 21, https://concussioninc.net/?p=14609

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by Irvin Muchnick

George Gibney’s first stop in his now quarter-century-long “Flying Dutchman” tour of America was the state of Colorado, from the mid-1990s through the early 2000s.

While there, the rapist former coach of the Irish Olympic swimming team briefly coached for a USA Swimming club, the North Jeffco Hurricanes, in a Denver suburb. Several years apart, two separate area police departments were informed of his Irish past and even an allegation of inappropriate conduct, possibly rising to the level of sexual harassment or assault, at the local swim team. Yet the Colorado police appear to have done nothing, except perhaps to claim later they were keeping a proverbial eye on him.

It is not known if Colorado cops ever spoke with federal immigration officials about whether there were discrepancies in Gibney’s visa application and green card papers. (In 2010 his application for U.S. citizenship would be rejected after he failed to reveal on it his 1993 indictment in Ireland on 27 counts of sexual abuse of minors.)

And one of the police departments, Wheat Ridge, did not even follow up on information — backed by documentation in the curriculum vitae Gibney was circulating to employers — that he was head of the “International Peru Eye Clinic Foundation.” This group apparently conducted one or more Catholic Church parish-sponsored children’s medical missions in that country.

Gibney’s Peruvian missionary work has been a focus of federal agents who began investigating him in 2018 under the Justice Department’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS). This MLARS probe, which neither its human trafficking finance specialist coordinator nor the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York has denied either to Concussion Inc. or to the couple of Irish journalists who have bothered to inquire, is an offshoot of a current grand jury investigation of USA Swimming for abuse cover-ups, insurance fraud, and asset hiding.

Eventually Gibney left Colorado, wandering from one state to another, ultimately to Florida, where he lives reclusively in Altamonte Springs, an Orlando suburb.

The British Broadcasting Company’s Sounds division, in association with Ireland’s Second Captains, is now halfway through a voluminous podcast series, a total of possibly in excess of five hours, devoted to some valuable additions to the record and to Gibney scandal awareness. The valuable additions include several moving accounts of Gibney’s sexual abuse victims, plus one from an unrelated American sexual abuse victim who, in a twist of fate, was for a time a work colleague of his in Florida.

But this bloated, artsy-fartsy Anglo-Irish production is plagued by pointless rambling and time-warp tricks. For the titillation of listeners, there are manipulated, out-of-sequence audio clips, which follow producer-narrator Mark Horgan’s contrived stalking of the sick, criminal, geriatric, and still-unpunished Gibney. Playing in the background is an expensively commissioned Hollywood-style musical score.

As for marshaling a few resources to examine in depth the several known instances of conflicts of interest, laziness, or outright malpractice on the part of government and Olympic sports officials on two continents? Sorry, that’s outside the comfort zone of the BBC’s lowest common denominator weltanschauung.

At 38 minutes, podcast episode 5 is the longest to date. Yet this segment, much of which is devoted to the Colorado chapter of Gibney’s passage, manages the feat of whiffing on any mention whatsoever of several key Colorado-based facts, and on almost every important insight flowing therefrom.

Which is only appropriate, perhaps, since Where Is George Gibney? began with the premise that he had “vanished” — disappeared from the reach of justice, if not literally, then geographically. From this foundation, the Horgan crew simply apes and embellishes the mainstream Irish media narrative. That began with the courageous 1990s exposures of Johnny Watterson (then of the Tribune, now with the Irish Times) and others, but has carried forward since with an oh-so-Irish brand of self-censorship.

Nowhere is heard a discouraging word on the Caesar’s wife dynamic of Gibney’s lawyer, Patrick Gageby, arguing the 1994 case that liberated Gibney from his criminal charges in front of an Irish Supreme Court that included Gageby’s sister, Susan Denham. Nor the tidbit that Gageby and Justice Denham’s father was Douglas Gageby, editor-in-chief of the Irish Times, an organ then assiduously downplaying the multiple tentacles of the Irish swimming abuse tale.

So it’s not surprising that when the time came for the podcast to alight on Colorado, it would be mostly for the Rocky Mountain landscape.

For the benefit of those paying attention, here’s a rundown of what was missed — all adapted from Concussion Inc.’s coverage in 2015, 2018, and 2019.

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ARVADA, COLORADO

Among the documents from the George Gibney immigration records that were forced into public release during my 2015-17 Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security was a copy of a job offer letter to Gibney. Because the document is almost completely redacted, we don’t know that this was for the job he would land in Arvada. We also can’t confirm that the offer had been engineered by the American Swimming Coaches Association. However, Judge Charles Breyer, who reviewed the full version of the letter, pointed out in his ruling that a core purpose of my FOIA case was to uncover ASCA’s role in arranging Gibney’s safe harbor here.

I submit that Breyer said what he said for a reason.

In 1995, not long after Gibney got started with the North Jeffco Hurricanes, he pinched a swimmer and/or snapped her swimsuit bra strap, a complaint was filed, his Irish past came out, the Arvada police got involved, and the coach and the team parted ways.

The timeline is unclear: either the police investigation forced the hand of the Hurricanes, and the cops decided, well, that was that; or the firing or forced resignation had already happened by the time Sergeant Jo Ann Rzeppa was summoned to look into the matter, so official action was deemed to have been rendered moot.

In any event, it was all hush-hush and carry on. That is the way in the George Gibney stories, and in all George Gibney-type stories. The goal is never the messy business of getting to the bottom of things, rooting out crime if crime occurred, or administrative accountability and transparency whether or not crime occurred. The goal is making sure, as efficiently and quietly as possible, that the sexual predator in an organization’s ranks becomes the problem of the next person, the next program, the next town, the next state … the next country.

Sergeant Rzeppa and other Arvada police officers had kids on the swim team or memberships at the aquatics complex of the Apex Park and Recreation District, or other associations casting serious doubt on the thoroughness of their investigation and its conclusion and takeout.

At http://muchnick.net/arvadapolice.pdf, Concussion Inc. has uploaded the 2015 Arvada Police Department summary of Rzeppa’s 1995 report. The department refused to release the report itself, citing an exemption under Colorado public information law that I decided it would not be fruitful to litigate.

Appended to our new upload are my exchanges with the police over outstanding never-answered questions about it. Rzeppa herself, long ago retired, refused to talk with me.

*****

WHEAT RIDGE, COLORADO

In 1998, another suburban Denver police report about Gibney was filed, in Wheat Ridge, three miles down the road from Arvada. Who submitted a complaint and what that report said, no one knows. The department claimed it had been destroyed in a routine cleaning out of old files under the records retention policy of that era.

In 2000, as reported by me in 2015 and reported again in the latest Where Is George Gibney? episode, his employer in Wheat Ridge learned of his Irish past and informed on him. At the request of my source, I did not name the informant, Marilyn Turner, but she is now out there openly to the BBC.

At http://muchnick.net/wheatridgepolice.pdf, Concussion Inc. has uploaded the report by Detective Lila Cohen. This memorializes that the Wheat Ridge cops went to great trouble to track down the details of Gibney’s position on the board of a local community college program for at-risk youth — yet didn’t lift a finger to learn anything about his chairmanship of the International Peru Eye Clinic Foundation.

The podcast episode, curiously, cites much of informant Turner’s information but does not press the Wheat Ridge police about it. In the Anglo-Irish rendering, Gibney’s travel to Peru is just another nugget of rumor flotsam, on par with his later mentioning to Florida work colleagues that he was going on a vacation in Puerto Rico. All vague sound bites are created equal; they are for hype first, with substance as an afterthought. This is the tragedy of their format and methods.

Last year I learned that Detective Lila Cohen — now child therapist Lila Adams — had scheduled an interview with the Horgan production team coming through the area. I demanded that Adams talk to me, as well, and at first she agreed. But when she realized that I would be asking tough questions about why she had seemed to follow up on every angle of her report except for the one about Gibney’s Peru children’s medical missionary work through a Denver area Catholic parish, Adams reneged.

Did the Where Is George Gibney? folks wind up landing their own interview with Adams, or did she renege on them, too? Did they ask the pertinent questions? Did the answers wind up on the cutting-room floor because they didn’t comport with their project of meandering audio by neighbors, employers, and work colleagues pinning down precisely when they got a “bad feeling” about Gibney and whether they would be surprised to learn later that, wow, he is indeed the most notorious at-large sex criminal in the history of global sports?

I can’t tell for sure. But it looks like another swing and a miss for this popular but shallow series, which is determined to serve up George Gibney with a pitchfork but not to complicate its listeners with information that doesn’t fit a predetermined paint-by-numbers pursuit of a monster.

Wednesday at Concussion Inc.: Where Is George Gibney?, episode 6, is poised to tell the story of Gibney’s rape and impregnation of a 17-year-old Irish swimmer on a 1991 training trip to Tampa, Florida. This time, we’ll anticipate what an inadequate analysis of that chapter might have been tempted to leave out.

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  • “Why Is George Gibney — No. 1 At-Large Pedophile in Global Sports — Living in Florida? And Who Sponsored His Green Card?”, January 27, 2015, https://concussioninc.net/?p=9797

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