From top: Derry O’Rourke and George Gibney
The swimming scandal. That won’t go away.
A timeline of events involving George Gibney, Derry O’Rourke, Frank McCann, the 1998 inquiry into sex abuse in swimming by Dr Roderick Murphy, SC and the accusers’ pursuit of justice.
Grab a large tay.
Caution: may contain traces of Opus Dei
1960s: George Gibney begins his career as a swimming coach in Dublin’s Guinness Swimming Pool. He worked as a fitter at Guinness. He also worked in the Marian College pool in Ballsbridge and the Waterford Crystal Swimming Club.
1967: Gibney allegedly sexually assaulted an 11-year-old boy, Francis ‘Chalkie’ White.
1968: Gibney allegedly sexually assaulted an 11-year-old girl.
1972: Gibney starts to coach swimming at Glenalbyn pool in Stillorgan.
1973: Complaints of abuse against Franciscan priest Fr Ronald Bennett, who later had an address in Killiney, Co. Dublin, are made to the management of Gormanstown College in Co. Meath by the parents of a boy who was abused by him. The parents were assured Bennett would no longer be alone with boys but he continued to abuse until 1981.
Bennett was originally appointed to Gormanstown as spiritual adviser and sports master in 1963. He was also the Irish organiser of Federation Internationale Sportive de l’Enseignement Catholique (FISEC), the world Catholic games, and he was a founder of the Irish Schools Swimming Association.
1975: Gibney leaves Glenalbyn for the new 25-metre pool and sports complex at Newpark Comprehensive School.
The Murphy Inquiry later noted that it was alleged he seriously abused a young swimmer at Glenalbyn club [although the club wasn’t named in the report]. A woman told the Murphy Inquiry that in 1975, when she was 13, Gibney abused her as she stayed with him for a month while her parents were on holiday.
She said she confided in a priest who told her to confront Gibney and tell him to stop. She claims that after confronting Gibney about the abuse, he slapped her across the face and called her a ‘whore’. He continued to abuse her until she was 15, she said.
1976: Gibney founds Trojan Swimming Club at Newpark Comprehensive School.
1977: A woman later tells the Murphy Inquiry that in 1977, when she was 12, she was advised by another person who abused her to accept a lift from Gibney, who then subsequently abused her when he drove her home.
1986: A 17-year-old girl whom Terenure Swimming Club coach Frank McCann is coaching becomes pregnant by him. Once the girl’s pregnancy becomes known, her mother confronts McCann.
May 22, 1987: Frank McCann, who also owns a pub The Cooperage in Blessington, and Esther O’Brien, who works as a technology advisor and is from Tramore, Co. Waterford, are married. After their wedding, they move into a house in Butterfield Avenue, Rathfarnham.
August 1987: The teenage girl, whom McCann impregnated, gives birth. Fr Michael Cleary – a friend of the teenager’s family – helps to organise a financial settlement between her family and McCann. McCann agrees to pay the teenager’s hospital bills while McCann pays £500 to £600 to the girl’s father.
1988: George Gibney is appointed coach of the Irish swimming squad for the Seoul Olympics.
1989: Gibney is given honorary life membership of Irish Amateur Swimming Association.
May 1990: Gibney resigns as Director of Swimming at the IASA, claiming he cannot do the job on a part-time basis.
1990: Gibney allegedly attacks a female swimmer while they are in Holland for a swimming trip.
December 1990: On a flight to the World Championships in Sydney, Chalkie White tells Gary O’Toole – then a European silver medallist and member of Trojan Swimming Club – that Gibney abused him from the age of 11. O’Toole recalls how he himself rebuffed an attempted assault by Gibney when he too was 11. Upon hearing Chalkie’s story, Gary sets out to uncover who has been abused by whom in the Irish swimming world.
December 1990: Chalkie also tells an assistant female coach at Trojan Swimming Club, Carol Walsh, from Portmarnock, Co. Dublin, of the abuse.
January 1, 1991: In Australia, Chalkie White, tells the honorary medical officer of both the IASA and the Leinster Branch of the IASA, Moira O’Brien, that he had been abused by Gibney. White would later tell the Murphy Inquiry that Ms O’Brien [unnamed in the report] told him it would be his word against Gibney and that he should ‘get on with it’.
Ms O’Brien would later tell the Murphy Inquiry, Chalkie was ‘confused’ and ’emotionally unstable as a result of a head injury’ and that Chalkie didn’t want her to report the matter. She would also later say a ‘doctor-patient relationship’ existed and that Chalkie didn’t want his complaint to be reported.
1991: Gibney allegedly rapes the same female swimmer he allegedly attacked in Holland in 1990, in a hotel room while they were on a swimming trip with the Trojan Swimming Club in Tampa, Florida. She is 17 at the time. It’s later reported that the alleged rape resulted in the girl becoming pregnant. A “high-ranking official in the sport” took her to England for an abortion. It’s also later reported that the official warned the girl not to tell anyone about the termination.
Between December 1990 and January 1991: Six senior swimmers – including Gary O’Toole and Chalkie White – stop training with Gibney and leave Trojan Swimming Club while some leave the sport of swimming completely. Nobody asks the six swimmers why they’re leaving. O’Toole, who has been trained by Gibney from the age of 9 to 22, is central to a campaign to uncover allegations against Gibney.
February 1991: Chalkie White tells the then President of the Leinster Branch of the IASA, Frank McCann about Gibney’s abuse and McCann says he’ll deal with the matter. In addition, at this time, assistant female coach Carol Walsh, to whom Chalkie has also confided, also tells McCann about the abuse. She claims McCann replied that, “he hoped to fuck it wouldn’t break while he was president”.
He also tells her there was nothing he could do about the allegations and advised her “to back off and not get involved”.
Later, in an interview with RTÉ in 1998, Ms Walsh says that, after approaching the IASA about the matter, she received threats and anonymous phone calls.
February 8, 1991: It’s announced that Gibney is stepping down from his position as Irish swimming coach, after 11 years, “to devote more time to the Trojan Club and the sports centre he manages in Dublin”. With Gibney’s help, Derry O’Rourke is to succeed him.
March 1991: Chalkie White tells the National Development Officer of the IASA about the abuse he suffered at the hands of Gibney. The officer later tells the Murphy Inquiry nothing specific was told to him and that he didn’t know of any abuse until November 1992.
March 10, 1991: Frank McCann’s sister Jeanette gives birth to Jessica McCann, on Mother’s Day, in the Coombe Women’s Hospital.
April 16, 1991: The mother of the teenager who gave birth to McCann’s child – after learning of McCann and his wife’s plan to adopt his niece Jessica – phoned the Adoption Board to object against the planned adoption because of what happened to her teenage daughter.
The McCanns hadn’t made an official application to adopt Jessica at that point but the board recorded her complaint.
May 20, 1991: The McCanns applied to the Adoption Board to adopt Jessica, then just over two months old. The board noted the complaint made by the teenager’s mother and confronted McCann about the allegation. He denied it.
McCann’s wife Esther didn’t know of any problem with the adoption. All contact with the board was through Frank McCann and a solicitor.
June 1991: Chalkie White tells the secretary of the IASA, Hillary Hughes, about the abuse he suffered. The secretary later tells the Murphy Inquiry that she did not remember his allegations.
July 21, 1991: A newspaper in Florida reports how Gibney sometimes takes his team to the host countries of competition – ahead of the competition – to allow the athletes train in a 50-meter pool, as Ireland doesn’t have one.
July 28, 1991: Frank McCann’s solicitor gets official word from the Adoption Board that it is rejecting his and Esther’s application but it’s understood Frank McCann knew at least a month earlier. Frank McCann is still president of the Leinster branch of the Irish Amateur Swimming Association at this point.
November 1991: Derry O’Rourke, with the support of George Gibney, is appointed national swimming coach. He later accompanies the Irish team to the Olympics in Barcelona in 1992. O’Rourke, from Edenderry, Co. Offaly, once coached triple-gold Olympic medallist Michelle de Bruin and was coach at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. He is employed as a coach at King’s Hospital School in Palmerstown, west Dublin.
November 1991: According to the Murphy Inquiry, a parent from a club other than Trojan Swimming Club is told by an assistant coach of Trojan that the gardai and the ISPCC were informed of the allegations in relation to Gibney. But later the ISPCC said it had no record of any such complaint in 1991 or in 1992. According to the Murphy Inquiry, the first record on the Garda file is dated December 15, 1992.
In addition, the Murphy Inquiry states: “The President of the IASA in 1992, had been told at the end of 1991 by a senior swimmer of complaints that [Gibney] was in serious trouble for molesting young children. The senior swimmer requested that the President organise a meeting at which Gardai would be present. The President took legal advice. No meeting was held.”
Irish Times journalist Johnny Watterson later reports that, after Mr O’Toole wrote to the IASA seeking a meeting, he received a reply on January 15, 1992 which said: “The IASA cannot act on mere rumour and innuendo and the person concerned has a basic right to his good name and reputation unless and until first hand complaint is made.”
January 20, 1992: A Garda certificate of character is issued to Gibney for a US visa application. It is not known who issued it or where.
Summer of 1992: Gibney is RTE’s resident panellist during the Barcelona Olympics.
September 1992: Frank McCann murders his wife Esther and McCann’s sister Jeanette’s baby Jessica by starting a fire in their family home in Rathfarnham.
October 1992: Chalkie White goes to a psychologist in October 1992 who, in turn, reports his allegations to the gardaí.
November 3, 1992: A teenage female swimmer tells her parents Derry O’Rourke groped her in a closed room. The girl’s parents request for a meeting with her club, King’s Hospital. It is later reported that the club’s president Michael McCann wrote to the parents thanking them for raising the matter, telling them they had behaved “correctly and impeccably”. The parents were also told there was no foundation to their daughter’s claim.
November 4, 1992: Frank McCann is arrested for Esther and Jessica’s deaths. He’s questioned for two days and, it’s reported, makes a rambling and incoherent admission. After making his statement, he went to St John of God’s psychiatric hospital where he claimed he was suffering from a nervous breakdown. He’s later released just before Christmas 1992.
December 1992: Six swimmers make sworn statements to gardai in Blackrock Garda Station alleging that Gibney had sexually abused them.
December 1992: Three swimmers ask secretary of the Leinster branch of the IASA Mary O’Malley for a meeting with the executive to talk about the allegations concerning Gibney. A short time later O’Malley and treasurer of the Leinster branch Eddie Eaton meet with gardai – who tell them an investigation is already under way.
December 1992: O’Rourke repeatedly sexually assaults another female swimmer at his club.
January 20, 1993: Gibney is suspended by the school’s management company on full pay, according to the Murphy Inquiry.
January 1993: A woman makes an official complaint to the Gardaí about Derry O’Rourke. She later claims an Irish swim official saw the coach leaving her bedroom during an Olympics and that O’Rourke raped her three times a week in his car when she was 12.
April 6, 1993: Gibney, who has already left the Trojan Swimming Club at this stage, is charged with 27 counts of indecent assault and unlawful carnal knowledge of young female swimmers under the age of 15 at Dun Laoghaire District Court.
April 22, 1993: McCann is arrested in Stradbally, Co. Waterford, where he’s living with a woman he had met in St John of God’s, close to Esther’s hometown of Tramore. He is charged with Esther and Jessica’s murders at Waterford District Court. He pleads not guilty.
June 26, 1993: A book of evidence in the case against Gibney is served.
July 12, 1993: Gibney applies for leave to apply for a judicial review on the basis of the length of time that has lapsed since the alleged offences took place and because, he claimed, the allegations lacked specific dates. He also claimed he had no diary or documents to help him recall his whereabouts or activities during the period pertaining to the allegations. The High Court refuses Gibney’s application for judicial review. He appeals to the Supreme Court.
September 10, 1993: Harold Meyers, the then headmaster at King’s Hospital in Palmerstown suspends Derry O’Rourke after gardai told him they were investigating allegations of child sex abuse. Michael McCann opposes O’Rourke’s suspension from the club.
November 12, 1993: O’Rourke resigns from the school – where he was first hired in 1970 as pool manager with his duties extended to supervise and manage the pool in 1977.
December 14, 1993: The Supreme Court – before the Chief Justice, Mr Justice Finlay; Mr Justice Blayney, Mrs Justice Susan Denham – allows Gibney to apply for a judicial review. Kevin Haugh SC and Patrick Gageby BL represent Gibney during the proceedings. Justice Denham and Mr Gageby BL are siblings.
January 11, 1994: McCann’s trial begins.
January 17, 1994: Gibney is suspended by the school’s management company without pay, according to the Murphy Inquiry.
January 31, 1994: As the trial is about to hear of McCann’s admission, he attempts to set himself on fire in his cell at Arbour Hill. He is taken to hospital and the jury was discharged.
July 21,1994: Following on from the Supreme Court ruling, Mr Justice Declan Costello in the High Court grants an order prohibiting the DPP, Eamon Barnes, from proceeding with the charges against Gibney. Leave to appeal was granted but no appeal was made by the State.
August 9, 1994: Gibney receives a payment of 19,000 pounds in a full and final settlement of his pay claim.
August 22, 1994: Gibney becomes chief coach at Warrender Baths Club in Edinburgh, Scotland.
December 4, 1994: The Sunday Tribune publishes sworn personal statements from four female swimmers – under fake names such as Betty, Pauline and Cathy – who claim they were abused by Gibney, on various occasions as far as back as the early 1970s. The newspaper also refers to claims by a male swimmer that he had also been sexually abused by Gibney.
The eldest of the four women tells the Tribune that Gibney abused her at the Guinness pool in Dublin where Gibney got his first coaching position.
A second woman says Gibney abused her at the Marian pool in Ballsbridge, Dublin 20 years previous.
A third woman says he abused her in a dressing room at Glenablyn pool in Stillorgan, while a fourth woman says she was abused over a three-year period – sometimes while on trips abroad and when she babysat for him in his own house.
The Sunday Tribune says the alleged victims were “willing to testify under oath and subject themselves to cross examination” if needs be.
It also states the sworn affidavits were obtained with the help of Gary O’Toole.
December 5, 1994: A man, using a fictitious name ‘Colm’ and with his voice disguised, tells RTÉ’s Pat Kenny Show that he was first sexually assaulted by Gibney in the late 1960s when he was 11 years old.
He says the abuse continued over three years until Gibney left his coaching position at the Guinness swimming club and moved to the Marian College pool in Ballsbridge.
‘Colm’ tells Pat Kenny he first met Gibney when he started swimming at the Guinness swimming club in 1965, when he was 9 years old. Gibney coached him until he was 15.
Colm tells Mr Kenny he never thought about telling anyone as he didn’t think anyone would believe him. He said Gibney was very powerful and well respected by people in the IASA, people within the Government and people within the Olympic Council. ‘Colm’ says he has sworn affidavits about the incidents.
‘Colm’ was Chalkie White.
In addition – in relation to the DPP’s decision not to appeal the High Court’s decision in July which effectively saw Gibney’s charges dropped – the Irish Independent reports an alleged victim of Gibney’s was told by gardai that “the DPP could not find a point of law on which to press their appeal”.
December 8 1994: It’s reported in Glasgow’s The Herald newspaper that the president of Warrender Baths Club, Malcolm Mathieson said the club had known of the allegations against Gibney – and that he had been cleared – when it hired him as chief coach on August 22, 1994. Mr Mathieson said: “The club’s position concerning the engagement of George Gibney as chief coach is unchanged in the face of gratuitous press comment.”
December 11, 1994: Parents involved in Warrender Baths Club hold a five-hour meeting to discuss the club’s previous decision to stand by Gibney.
December 12, 1994: Warrender sacks Gibney.
December 13, 1994: Progressive Democrats’ justice spokesperson Liz O’Donnell calls on the DPP to explain why it didn’t appeal against the High Court’s decision to drop all the charges against Gibney.
January 30, 1995: The IASA decides to let Gibney remain a life member of the IASA.
February, 1995: An alleged victim of Gibney’s hands a letter outlining their claims that Gibney sexually assaulted them, to the IASA president Mr Frank Stephens. They also send a copy to the IASA at its offices in Dublin.
The IASA told the person the letter needed to be handed or sent to the secretary of the IASA, Ms Celia Milane, with £10. The person gave the letter to the president and refused to pay the £10.
May 1995: After receiving no reply for three months, the person contacted the IASA and was told Gibney had left Ireland, the IASA didn’t know where he was, and nothing could be done about their claims.
April 1995: It’s reported that, at the invitation of a former officer at the IASA, Gibney attends a swimming gala and a children’s coaching session at two swimming clubs affiliated to the Ulster Branch of the IASA.
October 2, 1995: It’s reported that Gibney is coaching at a swimming club in Arveda, Colorado. It’s also reported that a IASA spokesperson denies the claims that Gibney had given coaching sessions to young children in the Republic and Northern Ireland earlier in 1995, on the invitation of an IASA member.
June 1996: McCann’s rescheduled trial for the murders of his wife Esther and niece Jessica begins and lasts for ten weeks.
August 14, 1996: A jury finds McCann, who denied the charges, guilty of the double murder.
August 15,1996: Frank McCann is jailed for life.
1996: Four girls – including the young woman who claimed Gibney raped her in a hotel room in Tampa, Florida when she was 17 in 1991 – make fresh allegations against Gibney and these are investigated by gardai in Blackrock.
However the DPP directs that no prosecution should be made from the second garda investigation and that Gibney shouldn’t be extradited, on the grounds that the evidence against him was insufficient.
January 27, 1997: The IASA suspends Gibney’s life membership of the association.
1997: The woman who claims she was raped by Gibney in Florida in 1991 tells her solicitor Timothy Ryan, then working with Hughes, Murphy & Co in Dublin, to sue Gibney, the IASA and the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI).
November 28, 1997: At Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, the trial of Derry O’Rourke begins with O’Rourke pleading guilty to 29 sample charges of sexual abuse against 11 young swimmers, on numerous occasions between 1976 and 1992. One of the charges O’Rourke pleads guilty to was that in relation to the girl who told her mother he groped her in 1992. Judge Kieran O’Connor was told O’Rourke originally faced 90 charges.
The court also hears O’Rourke tried to hypnotise some of his victims. Patrick Gageby SC, with Michael O’Higgins, defends O’Rourke.
January 30, 1998: O’Rourke, then 51, is jailed for 12 years by Judge Kieran O’Connor at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
January 31, 1998: Following O’Rourke’s conviction, it’s reported that the then Sports Minister Jim McDaid is to meet the IASA and has offered to meet O’Rourke’s victims.
It’s also reported that the Government gave the IASA £230,332 in funding in 1997 – including an annual grant of £92,632 and £72,000 for international competitions.
Triton Club in Bray, Co. Wicklow – of which international swimmer Gary O’Toole is a member – announces it is leaving the IASA in protest over how the IASA handled complaints against Gibney and O’Rourke.
It’s also reported that Mr O’Toole’s father, Aidan, contradicts the association’s honorary secretary, Ms Celia Millane, who had said in an RTE radio interview the day previous that neither she nor the IASA had ever been notified of complaints about O’Rourke.
February 10, 1998: Sports Minister Jim McDaid appoints Dr Roderick Murphy, SC, to investigate child sex abuse in swimming.
Dr Murphy is deeply involved in swimming as he is a member of Glenalbyn Swimming Club, an affiliate of the IASA – and a part of the Leinster Branch of the IASA.
Journalist Justine McCarthy later reported that Dr Murphy was a committee member of Glenalbyn in 1991 when a coach was dismissed, three months after that coach told two club executives that he had been sexually abused by Gibney.
When parents of victims meet McDaid, they seek a judicial inquiry but McDaid sets up an independent inquiry instead.
This means the inquiry can’t compel witnesses. In the end 70 witnesses, including 20 victims, 12 parents, seven coaches, and a number of officials from the IASA and individual swimming clubs take part in the inquiry.
The inquiry is ordered to examine how complaints about Gibney and O’Rourke were handled by the IASA, the Leinster Branch of the IASA, affiliated clubs and a school – however neither coach was named in either the terms of reference or the eventual report.
February 16, 1998: Dr Roderick Murphy begins his inquiry.
March 1, 1998: It’s reported that the Murphy Inquiry will also look at allegations that Frank McCann refused to act when complaints were made to him about Gibney.
March 2, 1998: It’s reported that relations between the victims and the Government are “strained because of the decision not to have a public tribunal and because of circumstances surrounding the setting up of the private inquiry. Despite an understanding that the group would be consulted about both the terms of reference and the chairman of the inquiry, both were publicly announced without consultation”.
The victims are also concerned about the powers of the inquiry and fear the truth won’t come out. Reports of the bad relations follow the Government announcement that it has appointed Ms Fidelma Macken SC as independent counsel to the inquiry, to assist Dr Murphy.
March 11, 1998: It’s reported that the results of the Murphy Inquiry will be delivered to Minister McDaid by the end of the month.
May 28, 1998: It’s reported that Minister McDaid received the Murphy Inquiry’s report. It’s also reported that, while Dr Roderick Murphy had compiled 1,300 pages of a report by the end of April, he was prevented from completing it by an injunction which had been taken out at the beginning of May from the former president of the King’s Hospital swimming club, Michael McCann, who was concerned about allegations about him which might be in the report. On May 19 Michael McCann withdrew his objections after his lawyers saw the portion of the report relating to him.
June 17, 1998: The 155-page Murphy Inquiry report is published.
In one case, one woman – who claims she was abused by Gibney and others – told the Murphy Inquiry that in 1977, when she was 12, one of her abusers told her to take a lift from Gibney who then abused her in the car.
Neither Gibney nor O’Rourke are named in the report but they are identifiable from the details in the report. The report also tells how two allegations were made about coaches other than O’Rourke and Gibney.
The inquiry concludes it isn’t possible to verify if there was any written complaint about Gibney made to the Trojan Swimming Club before Gibney left in early 1993 – as, it found, no Trojan Swimming Club records existed for the period 1989 to 1992.
The inquiry also notes it was alleged that Gibney had no records for the club for the 1970s and that he used this as part of his court action to stop the proceedings against him.
However swimmers told the inquiry Gibney kept detailed and meticulous swimming records and wrote articles in The Swimming Times.
June 18, 1998: Carol Coulter, in The Irish Times, reports: “It [The inquiry] did not examine who knew what when, and who did, or did not, act on any information. There is no recommendation for root-and-branch changes in the IASA. Those who were hoping for someone to be held responsible have been disappointed – perhaps inevitably, given the nature of the inquiry. Once again, it remains an issue for the courts to deal with. Already some of the victims have started legal proceedings.”
Mrs Marie Cunningham, who has four children swimming in the club coached by Derry O’Rourke but who weren’t abused, tells Ms Coulter: “We feel disappointed and frustrated. We feel it was not really the way to go about it. It had very limited terms of reference. It could not compel witnesses to appear. There are some inaccuracies in the report, some statements we know to be untrue, where people deny they had knowledge.”
January 24, 1999: At an IASA meeting, in the Ashling Hotel, Dublin, the organisation is renamed Swim Ireland amid criticism from abuse victims and their families that some members of the old executive will continue to be involved in the organisation.
It’s also reported that the parent and victim group asked to be able to speak at the AGM, and address the delegates, but were refused.
2000: O’Rourke pleads guilty at the Central Criminal Court to an additional 10 sex abuse charges.
February 5, 2000: It’s reported that a swimming club – set up following the Murphy Report and which has victims of Derry O’Rourke and George Gibney among its members – is refused recognition by Swim Ireland even though it paid their affiliation fees to Swim Ireland. The club claims Swim Ireland failed to implement many of the recommendations of the Murphy Inquiry.
June 2, 2000: A 43-year-old swimming coach, whose name isn’t released, is charged with 30 sex assaults on young girls over a three-year period in the 1970s. The man is arrested and charged by Det Sgt Lorraine Stack of the Garda’s sexual abuse unit, before making a brief appearance at Dun Laoghaire District Court. The offences are alleged to have taken place in Blackrock, Dublin.
July 29, 2000: Derry O’Rourke, who is already serving a 12-year sentence, gets another four-year sentence which he will serve concurrently for further offences. He pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to 19 sample charges out of a total of 59 involving six more girls. The assaults took place between 1970 and 1992.
At the time, The Irish Times reported: “Patrick Gageby SC, defending, said O’Rourke now had insight into his offending and was anxious to partake of the treatment available when it came to the Curragh Prison in due course.”
October 4, 2001: It’s reported that at least 12 former swimmers, who were abused by George Gibney and Derry O’Rourke, are taking their cases to the High Court.
May 14, 2003: Celebrity chef, Conrad Gallagher is extradited back to Ireland from the United States to face allegations he stole three paintings from the Fitzwilliam Hotel at St Stephen’s Green in Dublin, where his Peacock Alley restaurant was located. He was later acquitted. The move prompted Bart Nolan, an anti-abuse campaigner in swimming, to write to then justice minister Michael McDowell, asking: “If you can extradite Conrad Gallagher for three paintings, why can’t you extradite George Gibney for seven rapes?”
In 2004: The woman who alleges she was raped by Gibney in Florida in 1991 is told by gardai that the DPP has decided not to extradite Gibney. She attempts suicide.
Sunday Times journalist Justine McCarthy discovers that, in relation to the woman’s civil case, her solicitor Timothy Ryan had issued proceedings but had never served them.
The woman’s mother tells Ms McCarthy that the news would likely kill her daughter and she asks Ms McCarthy if her husband – a solicitor – would take the case.
Ms McCarthy insists it would present a conflict of interest for her but the woman’s mother said she didn’t know any other solicitor. Ms McCarthy’s husband did take the case and issued proceedings against Mr Ryan. In 2009, Ms McCarthy’s husband retired and another solicitor took over the case.
January 21, 2004: The Irish Times reports that a governance report of Swim Ireland by Deloitte & Touch shows Swim Ireland’s liabilities exceed its assets and that it’s at risk of insolvency.
The report finds a major source of concern was “the plethora of legal cases coming before the courts shortly” in relation to Gibney and O’Rourke.
January 24, 2005: O’Rourke gets another 10 years for the repeated rape and indecent assault of a female swimmer aged between 14 and 18, between 1975 and 1978, in a Dublin school.
2005: RTÉs Prime Time located Gibney in California.
November 9, 2005: During a Dáil debate on the Ferns Report – which investigated allegations of clerical sexual abuse in the Diocese of Ferns in Co Wexford – Progressive Democrat TD Liz O’Donnell refers to Gibney, saying:
“For many years I have been baffled, in Opposition and in Government, by the non-prosecution of child abuse cases, even when validated by the health boards. As Opposition spokesperson for justice between 1992 and 1997 I tabled dozens of parliamentary questions to the Taoiseach for the DPP asking why the statistics were so skewed.”
“Because of my interest over many years I became a contact point for many families exasperated because of such non-prosecutions. The DPP does not give reasons, leaving victims and their families distraught. In some cases it was due to delay. Frequently the accused would take civil action seeking to stop the prosecution on the grounds that delay in prosecution prejudiced the defendant’s right to a fair trial. This device was successfully used by the notorious child rapist, George Gibney, who escaped prosecution and is now living abroad.”
“Many abusers have availed of this device and it is the Judiciary, not the State, that has developed, to some extent, the law in this regard. We must change the law to state that delay alone cannot be used by the defendant in child abuse cases to stop a prosecution.”
“The passage of time and thus delay is part and parcel of the crime of child abuse. Many victims will only disclose when they are safe or adult.”
June 29, 2006: Fr Ronald Bennett, the Franciscan friar and former sports master at Gormanstown College, Co. Meath who founded the Irish Schoolboys’ Swimming Association, pleads guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to six sample charges of sexually abusing four pupils, three of whom were boarders, at Gormanstown between 1974 and 1981.
The court hears gardai launched an investigation 1999 after one of the victims complained to gardaí of being sexually assaulted at Gormanston College while a boarder there from 1974. Fr Bennett is remanded for sentence by Judge Desmond Hogan.
July 26, 2006: Fr Bennett, with an address in Killiney, is given a five-year suspended sentence.
February 4, 2007: It’s reported that O’Rourke is due to be released from Midlands prison in Portlaoise on March 1, 2007 – after serving nine years. Victims learn of the impending release via newspaper reports.
March 1, 2007: O’Rourke is released.
March 5, 2007: The Court of Criminal Appeal upholds arguments put forward by the DPP that Fr Ronald Bennett should have received a custodial sentence and he’s jailed for two and a half years. The Irish Independent reports Bennett regularly worked with both Derry O’Rourke and George Gibney.
It’s also reported that Dr Roderick Murphy had previously ruled a complaint about Bennett was outside the terms of reference of his inquiry into sex abuse in swimming.
March 11, 2007: The Sunday Tribune reports that it hired a San Francisco detective agency, Intercoastal Investigations, to track down Gibney and that, within a day, the agency found him setting up a home in Orange City, Florida, after he got a $150,000 loan from Bank of America.
The paper reports Gibney was working at a hotel in Lake Mary, Florida and that his apartment is situated 100 yards from the community swimming pool and a half hour’s drive from Disney World in Orlando.
Justine McCarthy also reported: “The impression that the gregarious coach had friends in high places is exacerbated by the revelation that he was appointed to two state boards after the Fianna Fail/PD government came to power in 1989.”
“As Minister for Education, Mary O’Rourke signed off on his appointments to the Irish Coaching Bureau and the selection committee, whose brief was to choose “outstanding sports persons” for the awarding of state grants. The job of the Irish Coaching Bureau was to devise curriculums and define the roles of sports coaches. Both boards fell within the remit of the Department of Sport, where the minister at the time was Frank Fahey.”
“Gibney, who received an emolument from the taxpayer for his membership of the prestigious boards, counted a garda sergeant among his fellow board members.”
Meanwhile, questions are raised as to how Gibney got a visa to enter the US as he must have lied on his application form – given the charges that have been made against him. Questions are also raised as to why the Irish Government hasn’t extradited Gibney.
July 8, 2007: As 15 women are suing Swim Ireland, alleging that the body – previously known as the IASA – failed to protect young children and put them in the care of a paedophile, it’s reported that Swim Ireland has to seek funding from the Sports Council of Ireland to finance any agreed package. The Sports Council referred the matter to the Government.
It’s also reported that one plaintiff, whose mother died by suicide after learning about her daughter’s abuse, has made several attempts at ending her own life.
February 8, 2008: A settlement is announced in the High Court, consisting of six-figure sums for 13 of the plaintiffs while negotiations continued for the two other women. It’s not known how much Swim Ireland paid toward the settlement.
As the women leave the High Court, they say they are thinking of the alleged victims of George Gibney. One of the women said, “The people who suffered from Gibney’s abuse must be looked after too. It’s a disgrace they way they’ve been neglected.”
July 2009: In relation to the woman who claims she was raped by Gibney in Florida in 1991 – and the instructions she gave her solicitor to sue the then IASA and the OCI in 1997 – the High Court grants an order allowing the 12-year-old summonses against the organisations to be revived.
October 2, 2009: Justine McCarthy launches her book Deep Deception: Ireland’s Swimming Scandals by O’Brien Press.
November 5, 2009: Former national and Olympic swimming coach Ger Doyle, 48, is convicted of 35 sex-related offences against children which took place at New Ross swimming pool between January 1981 and December 1993.
November 2009: A woman contacts the gardai to say she wished to make a formal statement about Gibney – claiming he abused her in the Eighties when she was a young teenager.
January 24, 2010: It’s reported that anti-abuse campaign group One Child International is distributing leaflets in the area where George Gibney lives in Florida. The leaflets warn parents to keep children away from Gibney.
It’s also reported that Gibney is working with the Church of the Annunication in Alta Monte Springs and with Catholic group The Knights of Columbus – the US equivalent of the Knights of Columbanus.
January 28, 2010: Ger Doyle is jailed for six and a half years for 35 counts of indecent and sexual assault against five boys in the 1980s and 1990s, making him the third Olympic swimming coach to have been exposed as a child abuser in Ireland.
March 26, 2010: One Child International in Florida writes to the then Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern, asking him to investigate Gibney and appealing for his extradition to Ireland.
April 4, 2010: It’s reported that One Child International will appeal – via Irish newspaper ads – to alleged victims of George Gibney to come forward and make fresh statements to gardai about Gibney to help prompt his extradition. One Child International says it will pay the victims’ legal costs should any arise.
October 3, 2010: It’s reported that the US Department of Homeland Security is investigating a complaint that Gibney lied on his immigration application to gain entry to the US.
January 20, 2011: The woman who claims she was raped by Gibney in 1991 while in Tampa, Florida, loses her High Court proceedings against the former IASA and Olympic Council of Ireland. Mr Justice Gerard Hogan says the 13-year delay by the now 39- year-old woman in prosecuting her case was inordinate and inexcusable.
February 15, 2011: Ger Doyle, who was jailed for sexually abusing five boys aged 10 to 15 years between 1981 and 1993 in New Ross swimming pool and who was sentenced to six and a half years in January 2010, has his conviction quashed.
It’s reported that the Court of Criminal Appeal found the trial judge had made a mistake in her delivery of a delay warning to the jury which was designed to address the time that had lapsed between the alleged offences and the decision of the complainants to come forward and report them.
April 24, 2011: It’s reported that American attorney, Jonathan Little, who is representing several American swimmers suing the sport’s authorities over alleged molestation, has applied to a US court for the release of Gibney’s immigration file.
Little has already been refused two such applications under Freedom of Information requests with the refusals made on the grounds of privacy.
It’s reported the file contains three letters from supporters urging that he be granted a green card.
It’s also alleged that Little is interested in the case as he’s attempting to show how US officials were lax about child protection.
December 2011: The woman who claims she was raped by Gibney in Florida in 1991 reaches an out-of-court settlement with Timothy Ryan’s insurers after she rejected a previous offer of €100,000. Mr Ryan was the solicitor who failed to serve plenary summonses against the then IASA [now Swim Ireland] and the Olympic Council of Ireland.
February 26, 2012: Justine McCarthy reports that the Olympic Council of Ireland and Swim Ireland are seeking €95,000 from the woman – she had paid €25,000 to Swim Ireland while the OCI’s €69,957 was being contested in the taxing master’s court.
Ms McCarthy reported on the matter, stating: “The two sports organisations have pursued her for €95,000 costs. After I emailed the OCI asking Pat Hickey, its president, whether he considered this pursuit morally justified, I received a phone call from the organisation’s solicitor. He asked if I thought it appropriate, in light of my husband’s involvement in the case, that I write about it. He advised me to be very careful, “from your personal point of view”.”
February 2015: Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan raises the State’s failure to extradite Gibney in the Dáil without actually naming him. Her questions come after it emerged a former swimmer, who had filed a Garda complaint against Gibney five years previous, died the previous Christmas, apparently by suicide.
March 5, 2015: It’s reported that an American journalist Irvin Muchnick, who is investigating sexual abuse in swimming, is also trying to get the US Department of Homeland Security’s immigration file on Gibney.
Irvin Muchnick’s application, under America’s Freedom of Information Act, is being assisted by Dianne Feinstein, a Californian senator.
March 4, 2015: Following the broadcast of a documentary about one of Gibney’s victims on TV3, it’s reported that Taoiseach Enda Kenny is to hold a meeting with Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald to discuss the failure to extradite Gibney from the US.
March 15, 2015: It’s 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 police could not establish if any crime had been committed.
March 27, 2015: It’s reported that Assistant Garda Commissioner John Twomey has appointed a Garda detective superintendent to ‘engage in a fact-finding mission’ in relation to Gibney.
Chalkie White emails the detective superintendent and asks if his complaint to gardai in October 1992 was part of the prosecution that collapsed, and if he could speak to the garda who was in charge of that investigation in Blackrock garda station.
Mr White claims he told the garda in charge of the new inquiry that the garda officer who was in charge of the first prosecution told him that his 1992 complaint wasn’t part of the original case, because he was working as a coach himself at that stage, and the defence might argue he was trying to get Gibney’s job.
The Garda in charge later got back in touch with Mr White to say: he hadn’t spoken to the other officer, he hadn’t got the file because there were ‘files all over the place’ and the investigation had spiralled. Mr White claims he then asked the Garda, did that mean a new case had come forward that could be prosecuted? But the Garda said, ‘No, there’s no new case.’
May 10, 2015: It’s reported that Chalkie White is still waiting for an answer to his question: if his original garda complaint against Gibney was included in the original case against Gibney.
July 17, 2015: It’s reported that, following his FOI request to the US authorities for its immigration file on Gibney, journalist Irvin Muchnick has received just four pages of Gibney’s 102-page file. Muchnick sues the Department of Homeland Security in a bid to find out how and why Gibney was able to get a visa, then a green card, to live in the US.
August 2, 2015: It’s reported Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan has written to more than 100 American female politicians appealing for them to support Irvin Muchnick’s challenge against the Department of Homeland Security for withholding 98 pages of Gibney’s 102-page immigration file.
In her letter, Ms O’Sullivan wrote: “Can you support the calls for transparency from the federal executive agencies in telling precisely how George Gibney got into the United States in 1995 and how he has remained there since? There are suggestions of intervention on his behalf by USA Swimming, or the American Swimming Coaches Association or both. I trust we can work together to get to the truth in order to bring about justice and some closure for abuse victims, in the hope they can finally move forward in their lives.”
August 9, 2015: It’s reported that Chalkie White believes Gibney entered the US with a visa he obtained in a lottery in 1988. He says he remembers a conversation he had with Gibney at Trojan Swimming Club in either May or June of 1998 – prior to the Seoul Olympics – in which Gibney told him he had applied for a lottery green card.
“It was in May or June,” White told The Sunday Times. “We were meeting to discuss the Olympics and he told me he had applied for a lottery green card. To the best of my memory, he said he’d got one. It stuck in my mind because he had just bought a house near Loughlinstown at that time and I wondered why he would be thinking of emigrating to America.”
The newspaper reports that 16,329 American visas were issued to randomly selected Irish applicants through one-off lottery schemes between 1987 and 1990. Those issued in 1988 were known as Donnelly visas, after congressman Brian Donnelly. Those wishing to receive the visas had to be interviewed in the US embassy in Dublin and undergo medical examinations.
April 17, 2016: Justine McCarthy reports that the Gardai gave a certificate of character to George Gibney to support his application for an American visa. It’s date stamped January 20, 1992.
Sources: The Irish Times, RTÉ, BBC NI, TV3, Irish Independent, Irish Examiner, The Sunday Tribune, The Phoenix, The Irish Daily Mail, The Irish Mail on Sunday, Irish Sun, Irish Mirror, Deep Deception by Justine McCarthy