“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
““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.,” September 27, https://concussioninc.net/?p=14614
by Irvin Muchnick
To date, the hyped but underwhelming British Broadcasting Company podcast series Where Is George Gibney? has chosen to do a standard rewrite, supplemented by oral history. It has avoided uncomfortable larger truths, such as the (at minimum) appearances of conflicts of interest in the appalling 1994 Irish Supreme Court ruling that allowed Gibney to escape trial on 27 counts of sexual abuse of minors, or explanations for the inadequate contemporaneous Irish media coverage.
The most recent episode, produced and narrated by Mark Horgan of Ireland’s Second Captains, served up a now-familiar recipe of interviews with people who encountered the former Irish Olympic swimming coach in Colorado — while somehow avoiding any mention, much less analysis, of the known cryptic reports about him by two police departments there, and their subsequent inaction.
The promo for episode 6, which goes live Thursday, teases that it will cover Gibney’s rape of a 17-year-old swimmer who was part of a 1991 trip to Tampa, Florida, by his team, the Trojans, out of Newpark Comprehensive School in Blackrock, County Dublin.
It’s time to stop playing post-episode “pin the tail on the donkey” with the BBC’s gaps in accounting for the failures of the justice system and of the global leadership of youth Olympic movement-affiliated swimming programs. Instead, let’s lay down some information about the case that, by all rights, should be — yet, if form holds, won’t be — part of a full and contextual podcast presentation.
For starters, understand that if part 6 features an interview with the Tampa victim, this won’t be anywhere near as new or shocking as the producers will claim. RTÉ, the Irish national television network, interviewed the woman (with her face obscured) for a 2006 investigative segment for the program Prime Time. In 2017, Concussion Inc. acquired and published a version of the video. You can view what she said at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RyxMTx8Rnk&t=407s, starting around the six-minute mark.
Because of Irish legal squeamishness, which I’ve come to appreciate is its own character in the Gibney saga, acquiring a copy of the RTÉ broadcast became a tooth-pulling exercise across more than a year. The network and the program’s producer, anchor, and correspondents never responded to inquiries about their own work. Finally, a raw copy of the video, minus post-production graphics, found its way to me through the mail from an anonymous source.
I confronted the same official abnegation of the basic record in running down a copy of the 1998 Irish government report on sexual abuse in the national swimming program, authored by Justice Roderick Murphy. The BBC podcast also has yet to discuss the Murphy inquiry. If there was so much as a mention of it (and I haven’t picked up on one), it would have been only in one of the fleeting old news clips that are spliced into the podcast for historical portent.
Besides RTÉ, most of the credit for advancing knowledge of the Tampa rape incident goes to Justine McCarthy, now of London’s Sunday Times. McCarthy reported additional facts about the girl getting impregnated by Gibney during the rape, and shortly thereafter, being drugged by an Irish swimming official and whisked to England for a secret abortion. (Previously, the woman said, Gibney had molested her in Holland.)
The woman and her allegations have had a tortured legal history, civil as well as criminal. In another article, we’ll run down the timeline of her monetary claims against Swim Ireland (formerly the Irish Amateur Swimming Association) and the Irish Olympic Council. For the purposes of this one, let’s stick with the criminal.
In 1996, two years after Gibney’s original prosecution got quashed by the Supreme Court ruling, this woman and three others registered fresh complaints that were investigated by the police in Blackrock. The director of public prosecutions (DPP), however, declined to seek Gibney’s extradition on new charges. Eight years later, and two years before the Irish TV investigation, the DPP again refused to press the woman’s complaint, and she attempted suicide.
In 2015, now-retired legislator Maureen O’Sullivan championed the cause of the Gibney victims, triggering the most recent review by the DPP. To my knowledge, this review remains unresolved.
In 2017, following revelations from my Freedom of Information Act case for documents from Gibney’s immigration file, Concussion Inc.’s reporting led to a previously unconsidered angle: the possibility that Gibney could be prosecuted in America for this particular crime on American soil.
The state attorney in Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa, issued a statement affirming that “exceptions and circumstances” can extend the statute of limitations — the date after which prosecution is barred by the passage of time. The prosecutor added that the circumstances “would need to be analyzed.”
Such circumstances are in the woman’s affidavit and other evidence in the custody of Ireland’s DPP.
Politician O’Sullivan shared with me legal research on Ireland’s Mutual Legal Assistance Act of 2008, which codifies the protocols for cross-national “joint investigative teams” and the “spontaneous exchange of information” by law enforcement entities under agreements between the U.S. and the European Union. The pertinent passage states:
“[T]he Director of Public Prosecutions, Commissioner of the Garda Síochána or Revenue Commissioners (in this section referred to as the ‘providing authority’) may, in accordance with the relevant international instrument and without receiving a request to that effect, communicate information to a competent authority in a designated state either relating to matters which might give rise to such a request or for the purpose of current criminal investigations or criminal proceedings or of initiating either of them.”
Of course, the prospect of bringing Gibney to justice for the 1991 incident is far from a sure thing; it depends on such factors as the current condition and motivation of the victim, and getting the Irish and American law enforcement officials to coordinate information and a prosecutorial strategy. But Where Is George Gibney? represents a significant opportunity to quiz and pressure officials and move this prospect forward. It should not be squandered.
Nor is the upcoming podcast episode on Gibney in Florida anywhere near complete if it omits coverage of the Fort Lauderdale-based American Swimming Coaches Association or of Peter Banks, the former assistant coach under Gibney who was an ASCA executive during the period of Gibney’s relocation to the U.S. and placement in his coaching job in Colorado. Banks, who became an American citizen and served on U.S. Olympic staffs, returned for a stint as the head coach at Swim Ireland, but is now back in Florida and extending his many years of refusing to answer any Gibney-related questions.