From top: A woman who alleges she was raped by former Irish swimming coach George Gibney in Florida in 1991 when she was 17; Gibney; a certificate of character signed by An Garda Siochana for Gibney’s US visa application in 1992; and documents from his visa file
Readers will recall the former Irish swimming coach George Gibney who is currently living in the US – despite him failing to secure US citizenship in 2010 after his application seemingly concealed how he had been previously charged in 1993 in Ireland.
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, in Ireland.
But he sought and won a High Court judicial review in 1994 which quashed all the charges against him.
The judicial review was secured after a 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, future Chief Justice Susan Denham, was on the bench of the Supreme Court that day.
Gibney subsequently left Ireland, first for Scotland and then America.
Readers will recall the exhaustive efforts of US journalist Irvin Muchnick to obtain documents pertaining to Gibney’s US visa file.
After a settlement, heavily redacted documents pertaining to this file were released to US journalist Irvin Muchnick just before Christmas and show Gibney was granted a four-month visa during a visit to the United States in 1992.
This visa application was supported by a Garda character reference issued in January 1992 (see above) – a year after people who had been abused by him started to speak up and organise themselves.
On foot of these documents, on December 17 last, Sunday Times journalist Justine McCarthy reported how, in February 1991, European silver medallist swimmer Gary O’Toole – who was told in December 1990 by fellow swimmer Chalkie White that Gibney abused him in – told Gibney he was quitting Gibney’s elite team and when Gibney asked why, Mr O’Toole said: “I think you know why.”
Others had also spoken up before his Garda character reference was issued.
In January, 1991, while in Australia, Mr White told the honorary medical officer of both the Irish Amateur Swimming Association and the Leinster Branch of the IASA, Moira O’Brien, that he had been abused by Gibney.
White would later tell the Murphy Inquiry – set up to look at abuse in swimming (more below) – that Ms O’Brien told him it would be his word against Gibney and that he should ‘get on with it’.
Ms O’Brien would later tell the inquiry that Mr White was ‘confused’ and ’emotionally unstable as a result of a head injury’ and that he didn’t want her to report the matter. She would also later say a ‘doctor-patient relationship’ existed and that Mr White didn’t want his complaint to be reported.
In addition, in February 1991, Mr White told the then President of the Leinster Branch of the IASA, Frank McCann about Gibney’s abuse and McCann said he’d deal with it.
McCann, who also abused child swimmers, was later found guilty of murdering his wife and niece, in an attempt to cover up for his abuse in 1996.
According to the Murphy Inquiry 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.
However, later, the ISPCC said it had no record of any such complaint in 1991 or in 1992. The Murphy Report states the first record on the Garda file is dated December 15, 1992.
In addition to Garda character reference and the 1992 US visa, the documents obtained by Mr Muchnick also show that Gibney’s application for US citizenship in 2010 was denied.
During the process of obtaining the documents under the Freedom of Information Act, during a court hearing about the matter, senior federal judge for the Northern District of California, Judge Charles Breyer pondered:
“How is a person permitted to remain in the United States when, in fact, the circumstances of the Ireland experience or what occurred in Ireland are publicly known? That’s number one.
And number two, if, and I would use the word ‘if,’ he gave false answers in connection with an application, how is it that that somehow doesn’t bring into question the term of his initial visa permit or his initial visa?”
In February 1998, Justice Roderick Murphy was appointed by the then Sports Minister Jim McDaid to investigate abuse in swimming.
At the time, Dr Murphy was deeply involved in swimming as he was a member of Glenalbyn Swimming Club, an affiliate of the then IASA (Irish Amateur Swimming Association) – and a part of the Leinster Branch of the IASA.
The Murphy Report, readers will recall, also recounted the experience of a 17-year-old girl who was raped in Tampa, Florida by Gibney.
The report said:
Another witness alleged that she was indecently assaulted on a club trip to Holland in 1990 and raped in Florida in June 1991 by the first named coach [Gibney].
The woman who was raped would later feature in an RTE Prime Time investigation into Gibney in 2006, and recount what happened in Florida.
Footage of this has since been obtained by Mr Muchnick and posted on YouTube.
Readers may also wish to recall that, in 2015, Ms McCarthy, in the Sunday Times, reported:
“A former swimmer has told gardai that a high-ranking official in the sport took her to England for an abortion after George Gibney, the national coach, raped her in 1991.
The woman has told officers conducting a review of the Gibney case that the official warned her not to tell anybody about the abortion.
She said Gibney raped her in a Florida hotel room during a training camp when she was 17. She discovered three months later that she was pregnant and she told the official, who is a professional person and knew Gibney.
She said the official obtained air travel tickets and accompanied her to England. She believes she was taken to an abortion clinic in London and remembers the official giving her pills that made her groggy during the trip.”
Further to the documents obtained by Mr Muchnick, and Ms McCarthy’s 2015 report, the US journalist reported on his website Concussion Inc on December 22:
“In the case of the 1991 Tampa rape, the evidence reportedly includes the victim’s affidavit to Irish police… The 2006 television interview, in which the victim, who is not identified and whose face is obscured, also includes details of the alleged attack.”
“The next question — one that needs to be addressed by public officials in both countries — is how to make sure the Florida prosecutor acquires the affidavit. The state attorney’s Frazier said, “Receiving documents or evidence from another country would likely involve procedures set forth in applicable contracts or treaties between the nations at issue. Those documents would need to be analyzed to determine the specific procedure.”
The United States has a Mutual Legal Assistance agreement with the European Union, of which Ireland is a part. These protocols enable the establishment of “joint investigative teams.”
Yesterday, Mr Muchnick repeated this call, writing:
“There is no excuse for continued failure by governments and journalists to examine the curious circumstances of Gibney’s 1994 diversity lottery visa and his continued resident alien status here even after a 2010 citizenship application — which seems to have failed precisely because he lied on it by withholding information about his 27-count indictment in Ireland for illicit carnal knowledge of minors.
“There is, especially, no excuse for the Garda not to be directed to share with the state attorney of Hillsborough County, Florida, an affidavit that is known to exist by the victim of Gibney’s 1991 rape of a 17-year-old swimmer on a training trip to Tampa.”
The documents obtained by Mr Muchnick can be viewed in full here
Previously: George Gibney on Broadsheet