From top: George Gibney (seated) returning home with the Irish Swimming Team from the 1988 Seoul Olympics; Irvin Muchnick
With the Olympics underway, below for Broadsheet readers is a ‘Director’s Cut’ of a February article for the Colorado Springs Gazette on the 30-year Irish-American odyssey of swimming’s George Gibney, the most notorious at-large sex criminal in sports history.
The American immigration and criminal status of a former Irish Olympic swimming head coach, who moved to the U.S. after being charged with dozens of instances of sexual assaults of athletes he coached — and whose odyssey in this country began in the Denver area more than a quarter of a century ago — has gained renewed attention in the wake of the 10-part podcast series, Where Is George Gibney?.
The podcast led to the emergence, in both Ireland and the U.S., of up to 18 former swimmers with fresh allegations that Gibney abused them, according to the BBC, the producer in association with Second Captains. The BBC said the series, produced by Mark Horgan, has garnered more than two million worldwide listens.
In 2015, 21 years after a controversial Irish Supreme Court decision facilitated the quashing of Gibney’s original prosecution, the country’s director of public prosecutions had reopened an investigation of him at the behest of a now-retired TD, Maureen O’Sullivan, who campaigned for his extradition to face renewed criminal charges.
In 2018, O’Sullivan met in Washington with Congresswoman Jackie Speier, a leader monitoring the issue of sexual abuse in youth sports programs. Speier assumed the role when another California Democrat, George Miller, retired after investigating USA Swimming in his capacity as ranking member of the House Education and Workforce Committee. In 2014, Miller forwarded his findings to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Both the U.S. Department of Justice and the state prosecutor’s office in Hillsborough County, Florida, have interests in reexamining the permanent resident alien status of and sex crime allegations against Gibney, now 72 years old and living in Altamonte Springs, north of Orlando. The multitude of allegations includes one that, in 1991, he raped and impregnated a 17-year-old swimmer in Tampa during his Irish team’s training trip. The victim has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals ever since.
Additionally, the Gibney extradition campaign has intensified questions about the knowledge of his presence here by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s USA Swimming, especially during his brief tenure as a coach for a team in Colorado, and about whether the American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA), a professional group that specializes in troubleshooting coaches’ visas, helped arrange for Gibney’s move and first job in the U.S.
A federal investigation of Gibney is an offshoot of a reported federal grand jury probe of USA Swimming, by the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, for insurance fraud, hiding of assets, and cover-up of abuse cases.
Gibney’s own movements in North America, and perhaps South America as well 20 or more years ago, are being scrutinized by the Justice Department’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS). Jane Khodarkovsky, a human trafficking finance specialist for MLARS, has not returned phone and email messages seeking comment.
Jonathan Little, an attorney who has represented dozens of plaintiffs in abuse claims against USA Swimming and other Olympic sports bodies, called Gibney “a monster” whose misconduct may exceed in scale that of Larry Nassar, the USA Gymnastics doctor who molested hundreds of athlete-patients. A recent report by the Justice Department’s inspector general criticised the FBI for botching solid information about Nassar’s crimes across a period of many years.
“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?’”
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