Former Irish swimming coach George Gibney; Investigative journalist Irvin Muchnick
In December, San Francisco district court judge, Judge Charles Breyer, 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.
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 which quashed all the charges against him.
The judicial review was secured following a controversial landmark Supreme Court decision – during which Gibney’s counsel Patrick Gageby argued that the delay in initiating the prosecution against Gibney infringed his right to a fair trial.
After this, Gibney left Ireland for Edinburgh, Scotland and then Florida.
Further to this…
Investigative journalist Irv Muchnick, writes:
Federal judge Charles. Breyer struck a blow for the long, slow bend of justice when he ruled in our favor last month in our Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security for additional public release of material from George Gibney’s American immigratiion records.
Perhaps we soon will have black-and-white documents shedding light on what the judge termed my suspicion “that the American Swimming Coaches Association greased the wheels for Gibney’s relocation” from Ireland to the United States.
Or perhaps not.
During the waiting game of the government’s 60-day appeal window, which expires a month from now, supporters of Gibney’s many sexual abuse victims, as well as general advocates on two continents, need to keep pushing public understanding of the story’s intertwining threads.
How the American swimming establishment enabled the harboring of Gibney — USA Swimming along with ASCA — is the most resonant thread for me; it ties together amateur sports abuse on a global scale.
But don’t try selling that to the youth athletes and their families who seek basic closure.
Like everything else about Gibney, even his crimes are a multinational affair, with at least one of them, his 1991 rape of a 17-year-old swimmer on a training trip, occurring in Tampa, Florida.
I have no information on whether a government appeal of the FOIA ruling is likely. If there is an appeal, our victory in the Northern District of California will be delayed, at least, while the fight heads to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
But even if we win outright, a lot of work is in front of us. We don’t yet know the extent of the mix of the court’s final unredactions and retained redactions.
Judge Breyer said he was ruling “(largely) in Muchnick’s favor,” but he also made it clear that blacking out the names of third parties, for example, was still appropriate.
If I had to guess, I would say there is likely substantial new information in the additional documents, but I also caution against expectations of a proverbial smoking gun. Challenges of interpolation and interpretation remain.
In the meantime, all other legal gears must continue to turn.
At the behest of Irish legislator Maureen O’Sullivan, the country’s director of public prosecutions (DPP) has been reviewing, since 2015, information on the abruptly terminated criminal counts of Gibney’s indecent carnal knowledge of 27 underage victims (allegations on which the Irish government’s Murphy Commission would find that the accusers “were vindicated”).
Reportedly, there is also other information on never-prosecuted incidents.
A time to wait — yes. But not a time to rest.