‘A Cross-Continent Cover-Up’



From top: George Gibney and journalist Irvin Muchnick

Readers may recall how a San Francisco district court judge, Judge Charles Breyer, last week ordered the US government to release documents pertaining to the US immigration file on former Irish swimming coach George Gibney to US journalist Irvin Muchnick.

Mr Muchnick, in Judge Breyer’s words, “hopes to uncover how American authorities allowed an alleged sexual predator to enter and reside in the United States despite the scandal swirling around him in his native Ireland. He also suspects that the American Swimming Coaches Association greased the wheels for Gibney’s relocation.”

It remains to be seen whether the US government will agree to Judge Breyer’s order or if it will appeal the decision to a higher court.

Until then…

A timeline:

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.

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 establishes 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.

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.

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 competitions – ahead of the competitions – to allow the athletes train in a 50-meter pool, as Ireland doesn’t have one.

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.

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.

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.

January 20, 1993: Gibney is suspended by the school’s management company on full pay, according to the Murphy Inquiry.

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.

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.

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 17, 1994: Gibney is suspended by the school’s management company without pay, according to the Murphy Inquiry.

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.

It’s also reported that the American Swim Coaches Association (ASCA) is concerned after being told of the allegations against Gibney. It’s reported that John Leonard, the association president, has informed the American swimming club and the sports governing body.

August 15,1996: Frank McCann is jailed for life – for the murders of his wife Esther and niece Jessica.

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, Derry O’Rourke pleads guilty to 29 sample charges of sexual abuse against 11 young swimmers, on numerous occasions between 1976 and 1992. Judge Kieran O’Connor is 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: It’s 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, where Gibney coached in the 1970s and which is an affiliate of the IASA and 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 the then Sports Minister Jim 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.

In addition, the Inquiry notes a quote from Fergus Barron who, in 1993, published a book, Swimming For A Century, to mark the 100th anniversary of the IASA.

The inquiry quoted him as saying: “With the students as a captive recruitment base, ideal facilities on the doorstep and qualified full-time professional coaches, many of these new clubs prospered. Indeed, the schools did too, as many established swimmers changed schools to avail of the training facilities.”

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.

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 locates 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.”

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 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.

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.

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? 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.

May 20, 2013: Judge Charles Breyer stated he would look at the disputed documents – amounting to 43 pages – from from George Gibney’s US Citizenship and Immigration Services file privately and make a decision.

Judge Charles Breyer stated that he would review in camera 19 disputed documents from George Gibney’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services file, and render a decision. (In camera review, which our side had requested, means the judge will inspect the records privately in his chambers. The assistant U.S. attorney handed over to the court unredacted copies of the documents.) Judge Breyer did not say when he would rule.

September 16, 2016: On September 16, Mr Muchnick’s attorney Roy Gordet submitted a memorandum of points and authorities in opposition to the US Department of Homeland Security “supplemental” motion for summary judgement to Judge Breyer.

In his memorandum, Mr Gordet argues:

“…the Court is justified, based on in camera review, to order release of the now only 20 withheld documents in dispute, or of appropriately segregable content therefrom. Such an outcome would meet the immense and justified public curiosity, on two continents, of the American government’s role in enabling the movements of former Irish Olympic swimming coach George Gibney, one of the most notorious and disgraced figures in all global sports. In no way would such disclosure abrogate legitimate privacy exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act.”

at its core this FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] case presents the Court with the need to balance the classic countervailing policies concerning how much secrecy a government agency requires to perform its function properly and the privacy interests of an individual who is the subject of an agency inquiry, on the one hand, versus on the other hand a legitimate journalistic investigation into the operations of that agency…

one of Plaintiff’s [Muchnick’s] various goals in obtaining the documents and information that is the subject of his FOIA request, as stated in his Complaint and in his earlier Memorandum at page 17, is to shed light on how the US Immigration Service permitted a person with a known criminal history to enter the United States.

Should it have been prevented, and could it have been prevented? So, on one side there is this significant inquiry concerning the public interest of an isolated case as well as the implications about who generally is allowed into our country today and in the future, and on the other side, we have the purported privacy rights of a non-citizen whose sordid history has already been exposed in international media so who clearly has diminished privacy rights in these documents and in this information.

…Document 37 is a “Police Certificate” related to Gibney. How could there be a need to protect the privacy of an Irish police person or bureaucrat that plausibly might have written about criminal files of an Irish national and sent the report based on a mere request from the subject individual?

Document 40 is an “Offer of Employment”. What privacy interest, and of whom, is being protected by this refusal to disclose the details of this employment offer? Moreover, the existence of an employment offer as part of an immigrant file or application is a strong clue that Gibney was admitted to this country under a special visa category, and examination of the USCIS standards in this connection fit precisely the definition of “pierc[ing] the veil of administrative secrecy” and “open[ing] agency action to the light of public scrutiny.”

Document 32 is an “administrative decision” related to a “third party” but inexplicably refuses to disclose which administrative agency and who is the mysterious “third party”? It is the government’s burden to “disclose as much information as possible without thwarting the purpose of the exemption claimed.”

For Documents 24, 25 and 26 Defendant makes the ridiculous claim that they contain information that will enable others to circumvent the immigration laws. If the information is so general that it would have such widespread applicability to so many potential immigrants, it defies logic that the information is so private and confidential, as also claimed by Defendant.

Or that there is so much gold in those hills for potential malfeasors to use to their advantage from documents generated around the time that Gibney was granted entry into the United States, something on the order of twenty years ago. Clearly laws, practices and technologies have significantly changed since that time.

Indeed, this gets to the crux of Plaintiff’s inquiry: what practices and procedures were in place at that time that Gibney was able to gain entry?

October 28, 2016: Mr Muchnick argues for the release of the documents before Judge Breyer. Following the hearing, Mr Muchnick reports:

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.

… 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.

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 US citizenship application could have considerable impact on the judge’s upcoming decision with respect to exactly what will be revealed.

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.

November 2, 2016: Judge Breyer issues an 11-page opinion and tentative order, directing the federal government to release documents relative to the decision to admit Gibney into America in 1994.

In his hearing, Judge Breyer refers to the “sordid history of the Irish Amateur Swimming Association” – by recalling Frank McCann, who murdered his wife and niece as a means to prevent them from finding out he had fathered a child with an underage swimmer and Derry O’Rourke, who pleaded guilty to 29 counts of sexual abuse in 1998 – before saying “George Gibney got away”.

In addition, Judge Breyer notes:

[Muchnick] hopes to uncover how American authorities allowed an alleged sexual predator to enter and reside in the United States despite the scandal swirling around him in his native Ireland. He also suspects that the American Swimming Coaches Association greased the wheels for Gibney’s relocation.

In regards to public interest, Judge Breyer says:

“… the public has a strong interest in understanding how and why their government allowed a man with a far-worse-than-checkered past (and perhaps present) to stay here for more than two decades.”

In the conclusion of his ruling, Judge Breyer says:

“…Department of Homeland Security has properly redacted or withheld in full some documents but not others. The Court has separated those two categories and highlighted what DHS would need to disclose to comply with this tentative order. If the parties cannot reach a resolution, the Court will issue a final order on the motion for summary judgment in due course.”

December 6, 2016: After the federal government does not take up Judge Breyer’s suggestion and Mr Muchnick and the Department of Homeland Security fail to reach a resolution, Judge Breyer issues a final order – in favour of Mr Muchnick.

In the conclusion of his order, Judge Breyer writes:

“DHS (Department of Homeland Security) is ordered to disclose substantive information contained in the A-File [Alien file] about Gibney’s alleged crimes, decisions about immigration benefits he sought, and the dates any documents containing such information were created.

“DHS may continue to withhold identifying information about third parties other than Gibney, as well as Gibney’s past addresses, salary history, A-number, and the like. It may also continue to withhold portions of documents revealing the investigative procedures used to obtain information about Gibney, but not the information itself.

“Based on the foregoing, DHS has properly redacted or withheld some documents but not others. The Court has separated those two categories and highlighted what DHS must disclose to comply with this order.”

December 10, 2016: Mr Muchnick, who has written about abuse by coaches against swimming athletes in America, is quoted in The Times of Ireland saying:

“We have seen these patterns of cover up in amateur sports before where there are suspicions around someone but they are moved off to another area, it’s like the Catholic church shuffling priests around parishes.

It could turn out in this case that we have a cross-continent cover-up of someone who was a danger to children.”

Previously: George Gibney on Broadsheet

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13 thoughts on “‘A Cross-Continent Cover-Up’

  1. Anne

    Susan Denham has a lot to answer for. I wonder does it bother her at all that her ruling enabled Gibney to carry on raping more children?

    Likewise for her brother Patrick Gageby.

  2. Kdoc1

    It’s baffling how a former fitter and swim coach could hold such sway with officialdom that it enabled him to escape from his alleged crimes.

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