Back In Her Box



From top: Paul Kimmage; Pat Hickey; and George Gibney and Justine McCarthy

You may have read an opinion piece in yesterday’s Sunday Independent by Paul Kimmage, headlined, ‘How did Pat Hickey become the most hated man in Irish sport?’

In it, Mr Kimmage recalled the case of a woman who was raped by swimming coach George Gibney while on a training camp in Florida in 1991 – a year before the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.

The woman attempted to sue Gibney, the then Irish Amateur Swimming Association, now Swim Ireland, and the Olympic Council of Ireland.

Her story was reported on extensively by journalist Justine McCarthy.

Yesterday, Mr Kimmage wrote:

In July 2009, the proceedings against the IASA and the OCI – dormant for more than a decade – were revived by a High Court order. A request was made to have the case struck out. The High Court acquiesced – the delay was “inexcusable and inordinate” – and the OCI and IASA were awarded costs.

In December 2011, the girl reached a settlement with Ryan’s insurers but was still being chased by the two sporting bodies for costs. They wanted €95,000.

Justine [McCarthy] was outraged and decided to email the OCI. She had a question for Pat Hickey: “How could he consider this pursuit to be morally justified?” He did not reply but set his solicitor loose.

Further to this…

Ms McCarthy, author of Deep Deception (O’Brien Press) about the various abuse scandals in Irish swimming, detailed the woman’s case in The Sunday Times on February 26, 2012:

I first met the girl nearly 15 years ago. She sat between her mother and her father in their living room. Her eyes were empty, her speech mechanical.

“She’s like the living dead,” her mother said.

The girl told me her story. When she was five, an elderly neighbour began sexually assaulting her. He was the grandfather of children who lived nearby.

When her mother was hospitalised for six months, the girl was looked after by the grandfather. He warned her that if she told anyone, her mother would die. She told nobody. The abuse stopped when she was 11, when the grandfather’s family left the neighbourhood.

She struggled in school and became withdrawn at home. Her parents brought her to a doctor who said she was reacting to her mother’s prolonged absence from home. Her parents hired a tutor to help her catch up at school.

After the abuse ended, a local swimming pool opened. When she swam, she felt happy. “I felt like I was flying,” she said.

She streaked through the water. Bystanders asked who she was. A swim coach advised her parents to take her to George Gibney, the national and Olympic coach.

Gibney took the girl under his wing. He told her he would make her a star. Soon she was breaking records. Gibney gave her gifts of togs and tracksuits and hugged her every time she climbed out of the pool to accept another medal.

He said she would swim in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

“That was my dream,” she said. She woke at 4am each day to train. Her father slept outside in his car while, inside, she swam.

Unknown to them, Gibney’s secret criminal life was starting to crumble.

Chalkie White, another coach, alleged to Gary O’Toole, a world silver medallist, that Gibney had abused him from the age of 11.

As he listened, O’Toole recalled warding off an attempted assault by Gibney when he too was 11.

White and O’Toole eventually unmasked Gibney as a rampant child sex abuser, but not in time to save the girl.

In Holland for a competition, Gibney came to her hotel room, jumped on her and pushed her onto the bed. He left as abruptly.

Back in Dublin, he shunned her. The harder she trained, the more he ignored her.

At a training camp in Tampa, Florida in 1991, he drove her to a hotel and, she claims, raped her. He said if she told anyone, he would sue and impoverish her parents. She told nobody.

The girl made her first suicide attempt while Gibney was fighting 27 counts of sexually abusing seven other swimmers.

She was referred to Dr Moira O’Brien, the honorary medical adviser to the Irish Amateur Swimming Association (Iasa – now Swim Ireland) and Ireland’s doctor at the three preceding Olympic Games. The girl’s secrets erupted.

Gardai began to investigate the first man who abused her. Two other girls came forward. He was convicted on seven charges and jailed for five years.

Sentencing him, the judge commented it probably was no coincidence that one of the girls was subsequently abused by her swim coach.

Buoyed, the girl made a statement to gardai that Gibney raped her in Florida.

By then, Gibney had eluded the first charges when the High Court ruled the delay since the alleged incidents disadvantaged his defence. He fled to Florida.

In 1997, the girl instructed a solicitor, Timothy Ryan, then with Hughes, Murphy & Co in Dublin, to sue both her abusers, along with the Iasa and the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI). She underwent counselling to prepare herself to testify at Gibney’s criminal trial.

In 2004, two gardai visited and informed her that the Director of Public Prosecutions had decided not to apply for Gibney’s extradition from America.

That night she hanged herself from a tree in the grounds of a priests’ order house. One of the priests found her in time.

By this time, the girl was anorexic and frequently self-harming. She could no longer hold down a job. She gradually became dependent on her ageing parents.

She has developed an addiction to cough medicine, drinking two bottles a day. She is often put on suicide watch in hospital.

With her permission, I used to phone her solicitor (who had by then moved to a different firm) to check how the civil case was progressing.

When he did not return calls I became suspicious and checked the Courts Service records. They showed that, though he had issued proceedings as instructed, he had never served them.

The case had been dormant for nearly a decade.

I told the girl’s mother. She feared the news could kill her daughter so we agreed not to tell her. The mother knew my husband was a solicitor.

She asked me to request him to take on the case.

I protested that it would be a conflict of interest for me, but she said that she did not know another solicitor. I asked my husband. He took on the case and issued proceedings against Ryan.

In January 2009, my husband retired and another solicitor took over the case.

That July, the 1997 proceedings against Iasa and the OCI were revived by a High Court order. Both bodies applied to have them struck out. In December 2010, the High Court acquiesced, saying the delay was “inexcusable and inordinate”.

IOC and Iasa were granted costs.

Last December, the girl reached an out-of-court settlement with Ryan’s insurers, having rejected an earlier offer of €100,000.

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”.

One day last November, the girl phoned me from a psychiatric hospital. She was harrowingly distressed. While she was on the phone, she left the hospital, bought a bottle of vodka and boarded a bus.

She said she could no longer bear being alive. She said goodbye. Hours later, a stranger found her in a shopping-centre toilet with her wrists slashed.

As I write, she is back in hospital.

Mr Gibney – who was charged with 27 counts of indecency against young swimmers and of carnal knowledge of girls under the age of 15 in April, 1993 – sought and won a High Court judicial review in 1994 that quashed all the charges against him.

The judicial review was secured after a landmark Supreme Court decision, during which Gibney’s senior counsel Patrick Gageby argued that the delay in initiating the prosecution against Gibney infringed his right to a fair trial. Mr Gageby’s sister Susan Denham was on the bench of the Supreme Court that day.

Readers may also recall how, earlier this year, it emerged that gardaí gave a certificate of character, date stamped January 20, 1991, to George Gibney to support his application for an American visa.

Paul Kimmage: How did Pat Hickey become the most hated man in Irish sport? (Sunday Independent)

Previously: Unreasonable Delay

The Chief Justice, Her Brother And How George Gibney Got Away

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44 thoughts on “Back In Her Box

  1. fluffybiscuits

    Its absolutely horrific what happened to that poor woman. When a man of Hickeys stature sets loose a solicitor on Justine Mc Carthy for raising such a question you have to ask yourself if Hickey has morals with all things considered. Hickey has been on the OCI for nearly 30 years plus and was always voted in unopposed. New regulations should be drafted in to create term limits for presidency (usually two four year blocks). Hickey has also been criticised for brown nosing dictators ( . All in all for me not someone I would have much time for if I knew him in real life.

      1. 15 cent

        he was opposed twice, and won by a landslide, but the people who were voting were given new roles and such beforehand. basically buying the votes. he’s completely bereft of morals. a horrible horrible man.

        1. Vote Rep #1

          All sports get the same vote so he likes to be very generous to the many smaller niche sports who then vote for him no matter what. Organisations stopped opposing him as they got completely shafted after he stayed on. It is the same way that Sepp Blatter stayed in power in FIFA for so long.

          1. louislefronde

            And the Revenue should carry out an audit of all the officers in the OCI as well as the some of the sporting bodies…….

            Queue mad sprint to be admitted to Vincent’s Private…..

  2. Jimmee

    This is one of the most horrific stories I’ve read in a long time.

    The judiciary are as much a disgrace as the bastards in the OCI and IASA.

    1. Jake38

      Spot on, Jimmee.

      Corrupt gravy train activities, combined with a complete inability of the Irish legal system to hold anyone to account for anything.

      As usual, its only when a foreign country gets involved (remember the coke and hooker in Vero Beach) that anything comes out.

      1. realPolithicks

        “Corrupt gravy train activities, combined with a complete inability of the Irish legal system to hold anyone to account for anything”

        I agree with everything you say except I don’t think it’s an “inability” I believe it’s an unwillingness to hold “certain” classes of people responsible for anything. The ruling elites take care of their own.

  3. spudnick

    Kimmage’s writing is always good value. He cops abuse for being ‘bitter’, but that is people misinterpreting his stubbornness to accept any grey areas for the sake of being ‘realistic’. Great article.

    1. Bertie Blenkinsop

      I’d imagine it’s fairly difficult to fall out with Brian O’Driscoll but he managed to.

  4. 15 cent

    he’s a horrible horrible b*****rd. I’m so glad he went to Brazil, and is getting some kind of hardship and humiliation, because if he had stayed here nothin would happen at all. ireland, the safe haven for the rich. i loved when our journalists asked the brazillian judge, or whoever it was, if Hickey would still go to jail regardless of his status .. which perplexed them, and they replied that yes, he’s a criminal, and he will be treated like other criminals. like its the natural thing for us to assume he’ll get an easy ride because thats the norm here. only time these a-holes get any punishment is when they leave the country. dunno why they put him in the same cell as mahon tho, they’ll be in there gettin their story aligned

    1. :-Joe


      I wish him and the rest of his ilk, all that is deserved.
      The worst that the world has to offer.

      Scumbags everywhere we look these days…


  5. NedleyKing

    This is awkward to write, but given the different ways the headline for this story could be construed (albeit, none with any sense of pride), would an alternative be better?

  6. Daisy Chainsaw

    I hope George Gibney rots from the inside out, slowly and painfully for a couple of decades for all the lives he’s destroyed. And a pox on all his enablers and facilitators too.

    I hope Hickey gets to stay in Rio for a few years too… Although I’m sure he’ll have blonde highlights and a deal with the Daily Fail for his story when he gets out too.

      1. Daisy Chainsaw

        They certainly do… but in all likelyhood, they never will.

        Oh for the want of a whistleblower!

      2. EmptyBee

        Why? A certificate of character is a statement of your prior convictions for visa applications to other countries not of your ‘character’ or rumours circulating about you. As far as we’re aware Gibney didn’t have any convictions or even charges against him at that point.

        1. Wonnie

          He’s guilty, Gibney was doing the very same thing back in the 70’s he got away with everything. There are s lot of victims in the wake of that toe rag.

  7. some old queen

    Hickey is probably a sociopath and if so, rules and even laws are just an inconvenience. He was prepared to do what ever it took to protect his fiefdom, including threatening abuse victims so there was no empathy, no right and wrong.

    He belongs behind bars. Lets hope they keep him there for a very long time.

  8. Tish Mahorey

    There must be all sort of efforts going on behind the scenes to get Hickey out and back home. I’d say bribes are being tabled left right and centre by friends of Hickey and the Irish Government.

    I hope the Brazilians come up with the goods because so far it’s all accusations. Hard evidence will be needed.

    1. nellyb

      It’s Hickey’s wife now who upset me most, as the story unravels. For what she could but didn’t do.

      1. Frida

        Oh yeah, blame the wife. What the hell could she do? I’d imagine the poor woman’s life is hell. Or was. Things are looking up for her!

  9. Anomanomanom

    Unfortunately Justice and Law are two different things. These scum lawyer’s practice law not justice.

  10. Truth in the News

    The Supreme Court decision and participation of a Judge and her brother as a
    Council for Gibney needs ventilation and public exposure, in any event either
    should have excused themselves, the political establishment have to tackle this
    Also since some time has elapsed since the decision of the Court, is it not time the
    Court decision was revisited…..the credbility of the system is at stake, and fancy
    silk gowns and wigs won’t restore it…..only the citizens can.

    1. manonfire

      The jesuits control the media and the judiciary here thats how Gibney got a ratline to Florida, if he is ever brought to stand trial he will spill the beans on a lot of the hierarchy in the catholic church in Ireland.

  11. Gary

    Effort will be made from the highest echelons to free Hickey,get him home.Launch an inquiry that takes five years to publish its results,story buried,the criminals escape with a slap on the wrist while RTE runs a documentary featuring Joe Duffy touring Ireland reporting on the country and western music scene in rural areas.

  12. guy bague

    The Brazilians will cut a deal to free Hickey. 10,000 work visas for Brazilian nationals to come to Ireland. They will end up doing menial service work for the likes of Hickey.

  13. Truth in the News

    The Brazilians agricultural economy was severely damaged when a ban was
    introduced on their beef exports, who did it realy damage very large coporate
    players and investors in Brazil, no wonder they were out to get Hickey, who else
    did the Rio Police investigate for black market ticket sales, or indeed how they
    wangled the games to Rio in the first place, the Hickey case has opened a can of
    worms…..could it emerge that the Brazilians greased palms to get the gig….doe’s
    Hickey have another tale to tell.

  14. :-Joe

    Who else is invloved and what else was going on?…

    Why let a child rapist and abuser escape if there isn’t something bigger and even more disturbing being kept hidden?

    Other more powerful people are involved or it’s another abuse-ring cover up methinks indeed…

    Scumbags all over this fun king place…. : [


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