Former Irish swimming coach George Gibney; and journalist Irvin Muchnik
Readers may recall American journalist Irvin Muchnick’s efforts to obtain the US Department of Homeland Security’s immigration file on former Irish swimming coach George Gibney.
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 – but sought and won a High Court judicial review in 1994 that quashed all the charges against him.
Mr Muchnick hopes the immigration file will shed light on how Gibney was able to get a visa, and then a green card, to live in the States, given the previous charges against him.
Readers will also recall how some partially redacted documents from the immigration file, previously released to Mr Muchnick, have already showed that Gardaí gave Gibney a certificate of character – issued on January 20, 1992 – to support his application for an American visa.
According to the Murphy Inquiry – which was set up to look at abuse in swimming in 1998 – a parent from a club other than Trojan Swimming Club, where Gibney coached, was told by an assistant coach of Trojan in November 1991 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. And, the Murphy Inquiry states the first record on the Garda file is dated December 15, 1992.
On Friday, Mr Muchnick argued for the release of the documents before Judge Charles Breyer, a Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
The hearing followed a May hearing, during which Judge Breyer said he would review in camera (privately) disputed documents from George Gibney’s US Citizenship and Immigration Services file, and render a decision.
Further to this…
Mr Muchnick writes:
At the conclusion of a hearing lasting nearly an hour, United States District Court Senior Judge Charles Breyer said he would shortly issue a “tentative” order in which he will likely require the Department of Homeland Security to release publicly additional portions, at least, of the 20 documents from George Gibney’s immigration records that remain under dispute.
During a spirited discussion with my attorney Roy Gordet and the assistant U.S. attorney James Scharf, Judge Breyer made it clear, without tipping his conclusions, that he has serious reservations regarding some of the privacy exemptions that continue to be claimed in this Freedom of Information Act case.
The judge said he will forward to the government highlighted sections or entire documents that he believes should be disclosed, and will harden his tentative order into a fully enforceable one only if the two sides remain at an impasse over particular details. Counsel agreed that this will be a good penultimate step.
I hesitate to report on or characterize the court’s remarks throughout the hearing, for I do not want to compromise the order that is forthcoming and I do not want to substitute my interpretation of them for the simple and full-context publication of the transcript (which I hope to do shortly).
However, it was clear that Breyer understood the pertinent history and controversy over the sex crime allegations against Gibney. And it was especially clear that the circumstances and disposition of Gibney’s 2010 U.S. citizenship application could have considerable impact on the judge’s upcoming decision with respect to exactly what will be revealed.
Four law student observers — three from the University of California-Berkeley and one from Hastings College of Law in San Francisco — were in attendance.
Early in the hearing, Judge Breyer invited me up to sit at the counsel table with Gordet, and later thanked me for my role in bringing legitimate public curiosity over the Gibney matter to this head. I greatly appreciated both gestures as we await what the court now will order the government to produce.
Previously: George Gibney’s Green Card