Irvin Muchnick’s book UNDERWATER: The Greed-Soaked Tale of Sexual Abuse in USA Swimming and Around the Globe will be published in 2024 by ECW Press.
PREVIOUSLY at Concussion Inc.:
“‘Another accused sex offender in the sports world, sheltered by U.S., may finally face justice’ – today at Salon,” November 19, https://concussioninc.net/?p=15369; https://www.salon.com/2023/11/19/another-accused-offender-in-the-sports-world-sheltered-by-us-may-finally-face-justice/
“George Gibney in the U.S. – Reprint of 2021 Article in the Colorado Springs Gazette,” November 20, https://concussioninc.net/?p=15371; https://gazette.com/news/podcasts-stir-new-sex-abuse-allegations-against-former-irish-olympic-swim-coach-in-u-s/article_cb36afe6-7875-11eb-91dd-67e902c483a7.html
by Irvin Muchnick
Though there have been multiple unrealized past iterations of reports from Ireland that the director of public prosecutions might be going after George Gibney for the second time, I believe there’s an excellent chance that the new round of reports is the real deal. For me, the tell is the aspect that Irish law enforcement officials say they have tipped American authorities than an extradition request could be in the offing, and are confident in their ability to have Gibney brought back to Ireland in the event the DPP indicts him based on new evidence submitted by the Garda.
This breakthrough would be significant, and credit for it almost certainly goes to the BBC and the Irish podcast company Second Captains for Mark Horgan’s 2020 series, Where Is George Gibney?
In my interpretation, the DPP is likely pondering an entirely new case against Gibney for previously untried crimes – not attempting to get the Irish courts to reconsider the 1994 decision mooting “old” cases on technical grounds, nor compiling new evidence from those collapsed charges.
More than a dozen former athletes under Gibney, coach of the 1984 and 1988 Irish Olympic swim team, came forward with new information during and in the wake of the BBC podcast. These are in addition to “Julia,” the woman who in 2017 gave me and then the Garda details of Gibney’s alleged molestation of her 30 years earlier at the swimming pool of the then Burlington Hotel in Dublin.
What’s likely to be missing from any upcoming action by prosecutors, however, is the ugly incident in 1991 in which Gibney allegedly raped a teenage girl in a Tampa, Florida, hotel room during a training trip. (The same victim said the coach also had sexually assaulted her the year before in the Netherlands.)
The swimmer said she became pregnant after the rape. She also said that an Irish swimming official plied her with drugs for a trip to England for an abortion, and directed her not to talk about it.
Failure to follow through with action on the 1991 rape might be attributable to the fact that this victim’s allegations were part previously dropped prosecution initiatives.
The inability to find justice for this particular victim would be troubling. But so, too, would be a opportunity to marshal the full resources of the criminal justice systems in two countries to get to the whole ugly bottom of the story of George Gibney in America. Not long after he allegedly raped and impregnated the girl in Florida, Gibney somehow secured a diversity lottery visa. By threading the needle of a timeline, just before he got officially indicted the first time in Ireland, Gibney then seemed to use the visa as a golden ticket for a second act as a U.S. resident alien.
Gibney actually wanted more than that: In 2010 he applied for U.S. citizenship. He was denied, seemingly because he’d lied on his application about whether he’d ever been arrested or indicted in his native country. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services dinged his requested citizenship for this flaw. But with tortured logic, Immigration and Customs Enforcement decided that a material lie to the government didn’t make him a candidate for deportation – because, yes, Gibney had never been convicted of a crime. Who knew the bar for being a guest of this country was so low?
Who knew, as well, that American government agencies, both local and federal, would remain so incurious about serious allegations not in the distant past in a foreign, but recent and on American soil? One of the huge remaining questions in the George Gibney scenario – with or without a second indictment by Ireland’s DPP – would be whether Irish and U.S. police authorities ever meaningfully compared notes on the 1991 rape allegation.
Also left dangling: Just how did Gibney manage to attain U.S. haven in the mid-nineties? During my 2016–17 Freedom of Information Act case against the Department of Homeland Services for records from Gibney’s immigration file, Judge Charles R. Breyer pointedly entered into the record my suspicion that “the American Swimming Coaches Association greased the wheels for Gibney’s relocation.”
For my 2021 article about Gibney in America, for the Colorado Springs Gazette, U.S. abuse victims’ lawyer Jonathan Little said, “George Gibney is the most prolific child molester in Olympic sports history, including Larry Nassar. Gibney raped children not only in Ireland but in the United States. The fact that Gibney is permitted to stay in the United States when his criminal history is so well known is baffling to me and it shows the true power of the Olympic movement. As citizens, we need to be asking: ‘Who in our government is allowing Gibney to stay here and why?’”
Last week, the swimming news site SwimSwam, for the first time, published Little’s quote and the Gazette coverage.
All this became newly urgent when, after the FOIA case, FBI agents traveled to Peru to explore Gibney’s reported involvement there in a Colorado church’s children’s medical mission. After that, I learned, Gibney was – and for all we know still is – under investigation by the human trafficking finance specialist at the Justice Department’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section.
So let’s celebrate bring George Gibney back to justice, if that is what proceeds to happen. But let’s not close only half of Gibney’s 30-year, two-continent loop.