Hosts Tony Groves (left) and Martin McMahon (right) welcome Gemma O’Doherty (centre) into the ‘tortoise shack’.
The appointment of Independent News and Media Group Editor-in-Chief Stephen Rae to the European Commission’s High Level Expert Group on Fake News raised some eyebrows.
So we were delighted to be joined by investigative journalist and award-winning director of ‘Mary Boyle – The Untold Story‘, Gemma O’Doherty to discuss the era of Fake News and the blurring between advertorial, propaganda and old fashioned journalism.
As a woman who sees journalism as a vocation, Gemma tells us honestly and passionately about her experiences, her current investigations and her concerns for the industry she has given her life to…
Former Irish swimming coach George Gibney; Arvada police badge, Colorado
Former Irish swimming coach George Gibney was charged with 27 counts of indecency against young swimmers and of carnal knowledge of girls under the age of 15 in April, 1993.
He sought and won a controversial High Court judicial review in 1994 which quashed all the charges against him.
After this, he left Ireland for Edinburgh, Scotland and then the US.
Gibney was granted a visa during a visit to the United States in 1992 – seemingly aided by a Garda character reference – a year after people who had been abused by him started to speak up and organise themselves.
Readers may also recall how, in March 2015, it was reported that police in Colorado, America, investigated a complaint of sexual assault made by a young swimmer against Gibney in October 1995 – a year after the sexual abuse and rape charges against him were dropped in Ireland.
At the time of the complaint, Gibney was working as a coach in the North Jeffco Parks & Recreation District.
The Arvada Police Department in Colorado couldn’t establish if any crime had been committed.
Further to this…
Irvin Muchnick, on his website Concussion Inc, reports that the police officer who investigated the complaint made in North Jeffco was the mother of a swimmer at North Jeffco.
Mr Muchnick writes:
Sources in both Ireland and the United States have told Concussion Inc. that the Arvada (Colorado) police sergeant who investigated George Gibney in 1995 — after the police learned of Gibney’s allegations of sexual abuse in Ireland and of a possible incident of Gibney’s sexual misconduct at the North Jeffco swim club in this Denver suburb — herself was the mother of a swimmer at USA Swimming’s North Jeffco program.
The news that Sergeant Jo Ann Rzeppa either didn’t disclose this seeming conflict, or was assigned to carry out her assignment to conduct an investigation at North Jeffco in full knowledge by the department of her connection to it, casts in a new light an ultimate police report that was already shrouded in mystery and apparent shortcomings.
Questions surrounding the actions or inactions of the Arvada police add to the body of information of how Gibney, whom we’ve described as the most notorious at-large sex criminal in the history of global sports, not only managed to gain entry to the US via a 1992 visa, but also has remained in this country ever since — thanks in large part to curious official decisions that have had the clear effect of protecting him from on ongoing campaign to seek his extradition and trial on dozens of both old and newly emerging allegations of molestation and rape.
Asked for comment on the information about now-retired Sergeant Rzeppa, a spokesperson for Arvada acting police chief Edward Brady told Concussion Inc. late Monday that the department will respond “once we have completed our research…. We will get back to you as soon as we are able.”
In 2015, before I knew that Rzeppa was possibly conflicted in investigating a complaint at North Jeffco and shortly after she retired from the police force, I had attempted unsuccessfully to contact her via Facebook. Today I could not get through to Rzeppa via what I believe is a good phone number for her in the greater Denver area.
Three years ago the Arvada police refused our request to release Rzeppa’s report on Gibney, with the claim that reports of child sexual abuse are exempt from Colorado’s public records law.
The summary provided by the police said Gibney “was suspected of possibly pinching (or snapping the swimsuit of) a North Jeffco swimmer. The APD investigated this allegation, but was unable to establish that a crime had occurred. Shortly thereafter, the APD learned that Mr. Gibney was no longer employed by North Jeffco. The APD had no other involvement in this matter.”
In light of the new information, and because the bulk of the report actually seemed to be an investigation of a tip about Gibney’s Irish past, and because references to any specific alleged victim could be readily redacted, I have asked Chief Brady to reconsider the records office’s 2015 decision not to release the full report.
Even without questions of a conflict of interest on the part of the investigating officer,the outcome of the 1995 Arvada investigation was alone enough to cast doubt on whether the local police and the swimming community leadership had taken any public safety initiative beyond simply reinforcing Gibney’s separation from the North Jeffco team.
Gibney would remain in the Denver area for an additional five years; his activities through that period included ones granting him close access to children. They included serving on the board of directors of a state government-subsidized program for at-risk youth, and chairing a local Catholic church’s eye clinic mission to Peru.
The only reason Sergeant Rzeppa’s name even surfaced in connection with the 1995 Arvada investigation is that she was named — as a fellow officer who was consulted for background — in a second police report on Gibney, in 2000, in the neighboring suburb of Wheat Ridge.
Perhaps the most emphatic indictment of the Arvada police’s passivity and the possible motivations behind it, however, would come six years later, after an investigative team for Prime Time, a program on the Irish television network RTÉ, tracked Gibney to Calistoga, California, and interviewed John R. Robertson, operations chief for the Napa County sheriff’s office.
Robertson (who is now the county sheriff) told Prime Time’s Clare Murphy that Gibney’s presence in the community “isn’t something we take lightly in the state of California or especially in the county of Napa.” Robertson added that the sheriff was adamant about “wanting to track these people” and share “information with the surrounding agencies.”
The conclusion of the Arvada report summary, “No further action was taken,” leaves open whether even perfunctory tracking of Gibney and sharing of information with local Federal Bureau of Investigation field offices ever happened in Colorado.
The findings in the settlement last December of my Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security for Gibney’s immigration records included multiple references in the government’s production to the existence of law enforcement records in a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services file of more than 100 pages.
This entire sequence of events was set up by Gibney’s original 1994 hire at North Jeffco— two years after Gibney submitted an American coaching job offer letter with his successful application under a diversity lottery visa program of the period known as the “Donnelly visa.” The program had large set-asides for applications from Ireland.
Though the details of the job offer remained redacted under my FOIA settlement, U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Breyer’s 2016 decision “(mostly) in Muchnick’s favor” fueled what the judge called my suspicion that “the American Swimming Coaches Association greased the wheels for Gibney’s relocation.”
…In the wake of the FOIA disclosures, Irish legislator [Independent TD] Maureen O’Sullivan has redoubled a campaign to get the cooperation of American politicians in seeking the sharing of information between Irish and American law enforcement agencies, and reconsideration of Gibney’s resident alien status in the U.S. Last week O’Sullivan told Concussion Inc. that she would be announcing new moves in the near future.