Tag Archives: George Gibney

From top: The Making Of ‘Where is George Gibney?’ at the NCH tomorrow evening; irvin Muchnick

“[T]here are no other proceedings before the Irish courts relating to Gibney.[…] The more I learn about what went on in Irish swimming, the more inclined I am to believe that there was a pedophile ring in operation. As I say in the book, this did not operate a membership list and monthly meetings but worked on a nod-and-wink basis with coaches recognising each other’s abusive instincts and tipping each other off in coded language about vulnerable prey.”

Justine McCarthy author of Deep Deception: Ireland’s Swimming Scandals, in an interview, “Irish Sex Abuse Chronicler Justine McCarthy: Concern That Swim Officials Who Participated in Cover-Up Remain in Power,” October 31, 2012.

“it was not natural to have come from there yes write about it if I like or anything if I like but not there, there is no there there.”

Gertrude Stein

In 2020, the sports media company Second Captains, in association with the BBC, released a lengthy podcast series entitled ‘Where Is George Gibney?’

This production pleased the crowd and it won awards. Its most salient feature was giving victims of the most notorious at-large sex criminal in the history of global sports the catharsis of an open-ended platform. After decades of their isolation and marginalisation, the concept had value, no matter what reservations some of us harbored with respect to the execution.

Two years later, the question ‘Where Is George Gibney?’ has morphed, and in my opinion, not for the better. As we’ll see, it was a peculiar question in the first place, giving way to a misleading title and contrived drama. But anyway, the question today is more like “Where is Where Is George Gibney?”

By this I mean: Have series creator Mark Horgan and crew told the story most centrally in the public interest – one of heinous official cronyism and corruption? Fully and in the round? Or have they just pulled off something flabbier and oh so postmodern – infotainment as a seemingly never-ending promotional feedback loop?

Tomorrow, Second Captains will be staging an event at Dublin’s National Concert Hall called ‘The Making of Where Is George Gibney?’ The designated beneficiary for “all proceeds” is One in Four, an anti-abuse group.

So, more consciousness-raising is at hand. Also, we can be sure, gardai, will be standing by their phones for fresh Gibney tips. Of course, they’ve been doing that ever since Charles Haughey was the prime minister – seven “taoisigh ago. In Irish: Ná coinnigh do anáil. In English: Don’t hold your breath.

I can’t make it across the pond to attend the National Concert Hall event. But in case the panelists for The Making of, etc. will be fielding real questions, instead of simply glad-handing, I have a few.

What drove the decision to take down a couple of small fish with “gotcha” segments – while demonstrating no appetite for confronting officials of sport bodies and governments on two continents?

Where Is George Gibney? was replete with warnings that the material we were about to hear about sexual abuse might be disturbing. They should have added another disclaimer: “No institution or powerful figure was discomfited in the making of this podcast.”


* Was there an interview with the current head of Swim Ireland (per Justine McCarthy’s observation, in other parts of the 2012 interview linked above, to the effect that the former Irish Amateur Swimming Association, the IASA, merely rearranged the chairs on the deck of the Titanic)? No. Rather, the podcasters settled for throwing under the bus a single hapless board member who was caught having explicitly and wrongly supported Gibney back in the day. They didn’t lay a glove on any of Gibney’s other many enablers, who were fluent at turning the page, lessons unlearned.

* How about Ireland’s Director of Public Prosecutions? That office has made more starts and stops on a Gibney bust do-over than a sputtering turbine. Has the DPP ever even shared the accumulated evidence – which includes sworn affidavits – with the state attorney of Hillsborough County, Florida, the jurisdiction of Gibney’s rape and impregnation of a teen swimmer during a 1991 training trip?

* In 1998 Justice Roderick Murphy got tapped to author a government report on the widespread problem of coach abuse in Irish youth swimming programs. Seven years earlier Murphy had been on the governing board of a club in the Leinster branch of the IASA, center of the era’s scandals, and hence a decision maker at the time of that club’s coach’s dismissal in the wake of abuse allegations. Journalist McCarthy wrote that Murphy’s choice to lead the government commission despite his own “extensive involvement in swimming” was “a conundrum which is still puzzling many lawyers.” The Murphy Commission would conclude that Gibney’s accusers were “vindicated,” four years after Gibney fled the country following the Supreme Court’s ruling, in turn leading to the vacating of his prosecution on technical grounds – a classic in the annals of closing the barn door once the horses had already escaped. Where Is George Gibney? was silent on both the conflicted backdrop and the milquetoast output of the Murphy Commission.

* Oh, and about that Supreme Court decision … Broadsheet remains the one and only Irish media outlet, pre- or post-podcast, with the temerity to point out that a sitting justice for that fateful argument, Susan Denham, is the sister of Patrick Gageby, Gibney’s barrister.

* Then there’s USA Swimming, which allowed Gibney to briefly resume his coaching career in America, before the local community caught wind of his Irish past. (“Sounds like an Irish – is he an Irish coach? Yeah, I think I’ve heard the name.” That’s what the late, disgraced CEO of USA Swimming, Chuck Wielgus, testified in one of his organisation’s own scores of abuse lawsuits.)

* And the American Swimming Coaches Association. In 2016 a U.S. federal court judge, Charles R. Breyer, noted that ASCA – which has actively advertised visa trouble-shooting for its members – was suspected of having “greased the wheels for Gibney’s relocation.” In one of the podcast’s best moments, Horgan cornered Gibney’s one-time assistant coach Peter Banks, whose career has been a shuttle between Ireland and the U.S., into all but admitting that he had helped engineer a coaching job offer letter to support Gibney’s diversity lottery visa application in the early 1990s. But Horgan, curiously, just landed that single personal punch on Banks and moved on. The podcasters didn’t share that Banks was, at the time of the visa issuance, the top staff assistant to long-time ASCA chief John Leonard. Nor did they follow up with ASCA.

* A federal grand jury in New York has been investigating USA Swimming for insurance fraud, asset hiding, and abuse cover-up, and as an offshoot, an official named Jane Khodarkovsky, the human trafficking finance specialist for the Justice Department’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, has been investigating Gibney. Did Where Is George Gibney? go there? Dream on.

What about the crucial Gibney angles in Colorado and Peru?

The state of Colorado, Gibney’s first U.S. stop, was the belt buckle of the nomadic American part of his story. Published reports by two separate local police departments there ensued. Where Is George Gibney? miserably failed on informing its listeners about both of them.

In the first, police in the Denver suburb of Arvada probed an allegation that Gibney had, at minimum, sexually harassed a girl swimmer on the pool deck. Gibney was quietly separated from the North Jeffco swim team coaching staff, but there were no consequences for his visa and green card. The podcast withheld the known detail that officers of the Arvada police, who investigated the incident and issued a vague report after Gibney was disappeared from the premises, were conflicted by virtue of the fact that some of their own kids were on the team.

Several years later Gibney was still in the Greater Denver area but employed outside the swimming industry, when his employer learned about the old Irish criminal charges against him and informed on him to the police of another suburb, Wheat Ridge. (And this generated what was actually the second police report on him in that town.)

A spokesperson for the BBC has admitted that Where Is George Gibney? did interview Lila Adams, a local child therapist who, as Wheat Ridge police detective Lila Cohen back in 2000, had written the report flowing from the informant’s information. For reasons Mark Horgan has not shared either on or off the podcast, that interview was left on the cutting-room floor.

Unequivocally, the public needs to know why Wheat Ridge failed to follow up on information about Gibney’s travel to Peru, with a contingent from his area Catholic parish, for a children’s medical mission of the “International Peru Eye Clinic Foundation,” which he claimed to chair.

That mission occurred during the same period as the Denver archdiocese’s new welcome of a Peruvian sect, Sodalitium Christianae Vitae (“Fellowship of Christian Life”), whose founders were accused of violence, abuse, and kidnapping. (The original leader eventually would flee to haven in Rome, and the Sodalitium would issue a report confirming the veracity of the allegations and compelling the group to write the founders out of their official history.)

The way Horgan handled all this was to broadcast exactly nothing about it.

Finally, what gives with the title?

Using the magic of audio post-production, which manipulated listeners’ sense of timeline; plus a music soundtrack hovering between ominous and maudlin; plus a dash of innuendo, the podcast parceled out hours of pointless ear candy telling of a search and a stakeout. Without presenting bald untruths, Mark Horgan hyped his shoe leather in tracking down George Gibney and pouncing on him.

Nonsense on stilts. Sophomoric. Embarrassing.

Gibney’s whereabouts have been no secret. He has been living with “Brother Pedro” (probably a fellow traveler of the Knights of Columbus, known in Ireland as the Knights of Saint Columbanus) at 882 Breakwater Drive, Altamonte Springs, Florida.

In 2006, with the camera rolling, Clare Murphy of RTÉ television’s Prime Time had confronted Gibney at a parking lot in California and stuck a microphone in his face. She was rewarded with a powerful visual and no comment, as Gibney drove off. Before long, he was moving yet again, to Florida.

With neither credit to nor mention of his more substantive forerunner in Irish broadcast journalism, Horgan sought to replicate the Clare Murphy moment. Toward this end, he consulted Evin Daly, the Irish native who runs the Florida-based group One Child International – and in that capacity has himself, at intervals, sought to talk to Gibney.

Daly advised Horgan that if he and his sound technician wanted to spy on Gibney’s house from an alien van parked on a residential street late at night, then they should notify the local police and explain their project. The podcasters rejected Daly’s advice. The upshot was that a bewildered neighbour, quite understandably, went up to the van to ask them what the hell they were doing. On the podcast, Horgan would spin this exchange as part of a broader insinuation that well-placed Florida civilians seemed to be mysteriously protecting Gibney.

After a bunch of meandering audio – which added up to shadowing a reclusive old man doing mundane things in plain sight – Horgan one day summoned the moxie to approach Gibney while he was out shopping. For listeners, the entirety of the aural payoff from this serial exercise in smoke and mirrors was a report of the intrepid interviewer’s own sweaty palms and heavy breathing. As expected, Gibney again said nothing. But the podcasters assured us the target’s face had flashed anguish and the encounter had been profound. Enough so, evidently, for a ten-episode drumroll.


Thanks to Where Is George Gibney? (why, he’s right here!), more and mostly younger Irish news consumers have been educated in certain sensational details of one of the country’s many historical sagas of abuse in high places.

Unfortunately, once again, they also have been mesmerised into doing nothing about it, except gawk and cluck.

Since my first conversation with Justine McCarthy ten years ago, and the beginnings of my own intensive Gibney investigations seven years ago, I’ve had the pleasure of making many new friends on the Emerald Isle. One thing friends do for friends is to check them when they lapse into blarney.

In my country, we have a different word. It, too, starts with the letter “b.”

Irvin writes at Concussion Inc.

Previously: Irvin Muchnick on Broadsheet

From top George Gibney in 1988 (left) and in 2019 (right); Irvin Muchnick

Though I have sharply criticised the thoroughness, as well as the lowest-common-denominator quality, of the BBC/Second Captains podcast Where Is George Gibney?, there is no question that this Mark Horgan series succeeded in one significant respect. It has created a space in which other major media outlets can choose, at last, to step up and reexamine the Gibney story, either comprehensively or from the several important angles Horgan consciously ducked.

The biggest breakthrough so far, on the American side, was last month’s coverage in The New York Times (which I reviewed here).

Ed O’Loughlin, a Dublin-based New York Times reporter, became the first mainstream journalist since Bob Egelko of the San Francisco Chronicle in 2016 to tackle the global aspect of the protection of Gibney from accountability for more instances of child sexual assault than we’ll ever know.

The New York Times did so by quoting the strong words of federal judge Charles Breyer during my Freedom of Information Act case against the Department of Homeland Security for background material from Gibney’s immigration records.

They whiffed, however, on Judge Breyer’s supportive comment about my hypothesis regarding the role of the American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA) in engineering the coaching job offer letter for Gibney that enabled his relocation here on a diversity lottery visa. This came shortly after a nepotism-tinged Irish Supreme Court, in 1994, quashed his indictment on 27 counts of illicit carnal knowledge of minors.

Today there is behind-the-scenes drama at ASCA, which is now on its third executive director in 13 months following the retirement of John Leonard, who is perhaps the most pernicious figure in the swimming world’s decades of cover-ups of abusive coaches. Stay tuned for more shortly on the ASCA drama.

Before and after the New York Times story, I have been importuning editors of the Orlando Sentinel to take Gibney coverage to another level. At age 72, Gibney lives in Altamonte Springs, Florida, north of Orlando. And as we know, all politics is local.

In 2010 the Sentinel published fleeting mention of a controversy among Gibney’s neighbours in Orlando, where he then lived and soon lost his home (the reason is not known, but it may well have been part of the universal home mortgage collapses of that period).

The same year – probably not coincidentally – Gibney, holder of permanent resident alien status for a decade and a half at that point – applied unsuccessfully for U.S. citizenship.

He moved into a house in nearby Altamonte Springs with “Brother Pedro” (possibly one of the local Knights of Columbus chapter players who are propping up the elderly Gibney with housing and a job at a hospice).

In 2014 George Diaz, a Sentinel columnist, wrote about the campaign to deny Chuck Wielgus, then the long-time chief executive of the U.S. Olympic Committee’s national sport governing body USA Swimming, induction into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

Over a period of years, I pressed Diaz, who advocated for foster children, to write something additionally about the campaign to bring to justice the swimming coach monster in his midst. Diaz never came through before the Sentinel laid him off in 2018.

Most recently, following the conclusion of the podcast series, I pitched Sentinel editor-in-chief Julie Anderson and managing editor Roger Simmons. Anderson and Simmons directed it to Jeff Weiner, whose title is “justice & safety editor.” Weiner expressed interest, but he and his bosses all have fallen silent for more than a month.

What are they waiting for? So many local details from the Horgan podcast and the Times article remain unexplored. Among them: Peter Banks, the Tampa-based swimming coach, formerly a Gibney assistant in Ireland, all but admitted to Horgan that he was the person who brokered the American coaching job offer letter that was attached to Gibney’s original visa – and Banks was, at the time, an ASCA official.

Also: The state attorney’s office in Hillsborough County has told me that the statute of limitations does not bar prosecution of Gibney today for his 1991 rape of a 17-year-old Irish swimmer during a Florida training trip — and this overlays and supplements the question of extraditing Gibney for previous crimes in his native country.

Two Sundays ago, the Sunday Independent’s Maeve Sheahan took a corner of the Gibney saga to a breaking development: the imminent release from Arbour Hill prison, after 27 years, of another legacy abuser Irish swimming coach, Frank McCann (“George Gibney case turns spotlight on double murderer Frank McCann — and his dealings with the teenager he coached,” behind paywall).

The Sunday Independent not only reviewed in depth the narrative of McCann’s murders – by burning down their house – of his wife and their 18-month-old baby. As Sheahan writes, the motive “was to conceal the secret that he fathered a child with an underage girl with special needs whom he coached at his swim club”:

“At the time, the enormity and profound cruelty of his crimes overshadowed his grotesque sexual interference with a vulnerable young girl. He received two life sentences for murdering Esther and Jessica but has never been called to account for his treatment of that young girl in his care.”

But there’s more. As Sheahan’s story points out, McCann also was president of the Leinster Branch of the then-Irish Amateur Swimming Association (now Swim Ireland) when the Gibney scandals broke in the early 1990s. As the 1998 Murphy report would point out, McCann made clear to others in the organisation that exposure of the Gibney horrors would not happen on his watch.

Decorously, the Sunday Independent didn’t publish the exact words of Carol Walsh, the coach who brought the matter to McCann after talking with Gibney’s root victim and whistleblower, Chalkie White. McCann, Walsh said, said he “hoped to fuck it wouldn’t break while he was president” and told Walsh “to back off and not get involved.”

Meanwhile, Johnny Watterson, sports columnist of the Irish Times, who deserves all the credit for breaking the Gibney story nearly 30 years ago at the old Sunday Tribune, returned recently with more Mark Horgan hype: “Where is George Gibney? Podcast Releases New photograph’.

Big deal.

Evin Daly, the Irish-American head of the Florida nonprofit One Child International, has been shadowing Gibney for years. Daly took almost all the contemporary photos of Gibney that have run in the Irish media in the last decade-plus. One of them graces the cover of my ebook The George Gibney Chronicles: What the Hunt For the Most Notorious At-Large Sex Criminal in the History of Global Sports Tells Us About the Sports Establishments and Governments on Two Continents.

Watterson also writes:

“While he is not currently involved with coaching young children, on arrival in the US Gibney did work at a swimming pool in ArvadaColorado.”

Watterson knows better than to parrot this bland language from the New York Times. Gibney was not some maintenance worker swabbing the deck at the Apex Recreation Center. He was a coach on the staff of USA Swimming’s sanctioned North Jeffco age-group team.

Indeed, Watterson is the person who first enlightened me on the fact that officers of the Arvada Police Department, who investigated Gibney in 1995, to no end, following a sexual misconduct complaint, was coaching kids there.

It’s time for the Irish and American media alike to start writing all this in plain English. Enough with the impenetrable code.

Irvin writes at Concussion Inc.

Previously: Irvin Muchnick on Broadsheet

Pics: Getty/Mark Horgan



American sports journalist Irvin Muchnick discusses new developments in the George Gibney case.

Yesterday, The Sunday Times reported that Gardai are investigating two new complaints of child sexual abuse against the former Irish Olympic swimming coach now living in America.

The former swimmers ‘living in different countries’ contacted authorities after listening to the Second Captains/BBC Sounds podcast Where Is George Gibney?

Previously: Keep Making Waves

From top: Where Is George Gibney podcast; Deep Deceptions by Justine McCarthy; Irvin Muchnick

The Second Captains/BBC Sounds podcast Where Is George Gibney? managed to stretch its title question, the answer to which was already widely published, across eight episodes, via a contrived stakeout that seems to have been recorded more than a year ago in and around Altamonte Springs, Florida.

The resulting stagily hushed passages had the redundancy of a hat rack in a moose’s den. They then were inserted between interviews with Gibney’s sexual abuse survivors and others – who, in turn and understandably, made the least institutionally connective or radioactive observations. George Gibney, molester and rapist. Very bad guy. Discuss.

The mechanisms of the max scandal, which widened the pool of victims and enabled its temporal length and geographic sustainability, were the cover-ups or lookaway passes by official law enforcement agencies and organized sports.

On the podcast, these villains remained “implied” at best. Most notably, there was not a word about the intricacies of the Irish Supreme Court decision or baffling moves by the Gardaí and the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Lending narrative shape and meaning to the roles of those who refused to be interviewed was eschewed. Practitioners of investigative journalism will tell you that it is basic to call out no-commenters. Producer-narrator Mark Horgan didn’t even name them. He seemed to have time only for hermetically sealed infotainment.

Thus, the podcast exposed only a couple of old fools, Swim Ireland board member John Mullins and Irish-American coach Peter Banks. By innuendo-laced reference, there were also digs at a familiar bogeyman, the Knights of Columbus.

It was not noted that Banks had been an executive of the American Swimming Coaches’ Association at the time when, he all but admitted, he arranged a coaching job offer letter to support Gibney’s visa application under the US government’s Donnelly diversity lottery program.

In what is a medium of sound, Gibney’s contemporary voice contributed only expected silence. Yet Horgan, assured listeners, in retrospective voiceovers, that he was “seeing” how his confrontation with the former Irish Olympic swimming coach, in the parking lot of a shopping centre, played out as dramatic and consequential, both elevating the interviewer’s heart rate and causing his target palpable karmic consternation. The former was irrelevant. As for the latter, we have to take Horgan’s word for it.

Where Is George Gibney? will wrap up with two in-studio episodes, either live or live-to-tape, on December 3 and December 10. Many of the most important questions remain not only intriguingly open but shamefully unaddressed…

Where are the American media?

“It is a key ambition of the BBC to get this series on the radar in the US,” Maria Horgan, Mark’s sister and associate producer, told me in January 2019. This goal does not seem to be anywhere near achieved.

That is not entirely the fault of the podcast. When it comes to abuses in youth swimming, the major American media don’t think about what they don’t think about, and also don’t think about what they do think about.

USA Swimming, the national sport governing body under the US Olympic Committee, is under a federal grand jury investigation for financial crimes and abuse cover-ups. But only a handful of American newspapers have reported as much, without follow-through.

No one at all has picked up on the reporting by Concussion Inc. that myriad American government investigations of the swimming establishment, involving multiple Federal Bureau of Investigation field offices, include a live probe of failed citizenship applicant yet rollover green card holder George Gibney. Jane Khodarkovsky, human trafficking finance specialist for the Department of Justice’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, heads up the Gibney investigation.

The Horgan team can’t control what the US media do. However, Horgan alone is responsible for non-existent product on the most serious aspects of Gibney’s American peregrinations, which would have taken global coverage to another level.

Horgan failed to mention, let alone cover in depth, Gibney’s age-group swim club coaching stint in suburban Denver, and disturbing dead-end reports from two local police departments coming out of his more than five years in Colorado.

There, Gibney’s chairmanship of a church charity’s children’s eye clinic mission in Peru – coinciding with the expansion into the Archdiocese of Denver by the abuse-plagued Peruvian Catholic sect Sodalitium Christianae Vitae was not explored.

Where is the full 1991 Florida rape story?

In my listen, the most unseemly failure of the podcast was the half-disclosure of the 1991 incident, during a training trip by the Trojans swimming team to Tampa, Florida, in which Gibney raped a 17-year-old swimmer called “Susan.”

In 2006, RTÉ television’s Prime Time gave Susan what is also, generally, the greatest strength of Where Is George Gibney?: an opportunity for survivors to speak in their own voices. (Watch Susan at around the 6:00 mark in the video here)

Unfortunately, by the time the BBC podcast was being produced, Susan was back in a psychiatric hospital and in no condition to be interviewed. Horgan could have chosen to play the 14-year-old clip of her; podcasts are driven by archival TV and radio nuggets, as well as by fresh content.

It gets worse. The podcast related the full background of Susan’s swimming career, including Gibney’s serial abuse, which also occurred on another trip abroad, in Holland, months prior to the Tampa incident.

But for unknown reasons, BBC / Second Captains omitted the back end of the story. Upon her return to Ireland from the US, Susan discovered she was pregnant. An Irish swimming official plied her with narcotic drugs and accompanied her on a trip to England, where she got an abortion.

We know the back end of the story because Justine McCarthy of The Sunday Times reported all this in 2015. McCarthy called the swimming official “a professional person”. McCarthy called the swimming official “a professional person”. They were a shockingly unethical fixer, whoever they were.

And by the way, where is Justine McCarthy — and everything that flowed from her groundbreaking work?

Where Is George Gibney? featured Irish journalists Johnny Watterson and Paul Kimmage, and without a doubt they were vital chroniclers of the decades-long story. Watterson, an alumnus of Newpark Comprehensive School, where Gibney taught and coached, was haunted by hearing about the horrors suffered by his contemporaries there. Watterson put the resources of his newspaper at the time, the Tribune, on the line to lift the story into credibility and wide circulation.

For her part, McCarthy wrote the definitive book, Deep Deception: Ireland’s Swimming Scandals, which would be cited by a federal judge in the US, Charles R. Breyer, when he ruled in my favour in 2016 in a Freedom of Information Act case to force release by the Department of Homeland Security of records from Gibney’s immigration file.

McCarthy’s reporting, both for her newspaper outlets over the years and in the Deep Deception book, is chock full of the sort of hard information the podcast simply ignored. To wit:

In 1996, “Susan” was one of four women who made fresh allegations against Gibney, including the Florida rape, that were investigated by police in Blackrock. Bizarrely and unfairly, Horgan’s podcast tosses off the line that Susan’s case went nowhere for lack of jurisdiction.

In 1997, Susan reported the incident to the Irish Amateur Swimming Association and the Olympic Council of Ireland, and filed a civil lawsuit against Gibney (by then he was two years into his American odyssey).

In 1998, Susan’s account was part of the Irish government’s Murphy Inquiry into widespread abuses in the country’s swimming programs. The Murphy report was yet another data point the podcast completely blew off.

Some years after that, journalist McCarthy got involved, ultimately prevailing upon her husband, a lawyer, to help represent Susan.

In 2011, Susan lost High Court proceedings against Irish sports bodies, but came to a complicated monetary out-of-court settlement.

In a truly disgusting development in 2012, the Olympic Council and Swim Ireland (successor to the Irish Amateur Swimming Association), claiming reimbursement of costs for defending litigation, clawed back almost all the money for Susan.

In the recent bonus episode, Mark Horgan made what I believe was the series’ only reference to the work of Justine McCarthy.

My last word on the whole disappointing enterprise is the same as my first: I am spectacularly unimpressed by all the bells and whistles. The world didn’t need a BBC-funded podcast reframing the story in a way that truncated accountability, vacuumed up credit, and served the podcaster’s ambition to be behind the wheel of a cheesy production.

Where Is George Gibney? just needed to tell the damn story, straight. It failed.

Irvin writes at Concussion Inc.

Previously: Irvin Muchnick on Broadsheet

From top BBC Sounds/Second Captains podcast ‘Where Is George Gibney’; Former Swim Ireland head coach Peter Banks at the Rio Olympics in 2016; Irvin Muchnick

Credit where credit is due.

In the most recent of my unimpressed takes on the slickly produced rehash that had been the BBC Sounds podcast series Where Is George Gibney? to date, I challenged producer Mark Horgan to find “where is Peter Banks?”

Banks is the Irish-American swimming coach and former top Irish and American national swimming organization official who is clearly at the center of the narrative of Gibney’s flight to the United States, with assists from governments and sports institutions.

My expectation was that Horgan would not come through.

However, episode 7 of the podcast, which dropped yesterday, not only finds Banks but blows the story open, as he sputters through an interview obviously establishing – though Banks won’t admit it, claiming a memory lapse – that he was the person who engineered an American coaching job offer to Gibney.

The letter, in turn, enabled the completion of the diversity lottery visa undergirding Gibney’s escape from Irish justice, and from Ireland altogether.


This is explosive new information, not the throat-clearing and hype I had been criticising. It bodes well for the prospect of not just more drama, but also more substance, in next week’s episode, for which a confrontation with Gibney is being promoted, and for a final two “real time” episodes, processing the findings of the series and outlining possible pressure for official action ahead.

In the new episode, Horgan notes that the American job offer letter to Gibney had been revealed, in redacted form, by my Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security for material from his immigration file.

Horgan proceeds to land an interview with Banks in Tampa. Banks lives in the area as a swimming coach for Tampa’s Berkeley Preparatory School — his most recent American position after being bounced by Swim Ireland as the national team coach in 2016.

Fumbling and stammering, Banks can’t help himself. He recounts meeting for the last time with Gibney in Florida in 1993, when Gibney was there to pick up his green card.

This was before his indictment on 27 counts of illicit carnal knowledge of minors, and a year prior to the outrageous Irish Supreme Court ruling that quashed the charges because of time lapsed.

So Gibney was already plotting his getaway, and Banks was his tool.

Banks says he doesn’t remember authoring or directing a job offer letter. Yet he turns right around and adds that such a hypothetical letter must have come from Blue Wave Swimming, the program he had taken over in 1989 after years as an assistant under Gibney at the Trojans team out of Newpark Comprehensive School in Blackrock, County Dublin.

Banks is fooling no one but himself. His guilty conscience washes over the audio stronger than a butterfly stroke through water.

I continue to have quibbles with Horgan’s podcast, but at this point they should be registered as just that: quibbles.

He doesn’t mention (at least the podcast doesn’t yet mention) Banks’s post as a director of John Leonard’s American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA), one of the most pernicious entities in the global cover-ups and cross-country movements of coaches accused (and sometimes ultimately criminally convicted) of sexual abuse of youth athletes in their charge.

Arguably, ASCA, a professional trade association, is more culpable than USA Swimming itself, the U.S. Olympic Committee national sport governing body, which is now under investigation by a federal grand jury for its cover-ups and shady insurance practices, the latter of which included a money-laundering offshore reinsurance subsidiary in Barbados.

I also don’t like the elliptical and chronologically scrambled accounts of the BBC’s stalking of Gibney and what I consider sometimes underwhelming information about his late-life lifestyle and activities. (To be fair, the podcast does now offer important new details on the coaching tree of abusers in Irish and British swimming, and on individuals who have aided and abetted Gibney in the U.S.)

And then there’s the connection of Supreme Court Justice Susan Denham and her brother, Gibney’s barrister Patrick Gageby. And there’s the coded ongoing coverage of the case by the defamation lawsuit-cowed Irish media.

But since Horgan has delivered big-time with Banks and there is more to come, it is not appropriate to dwell on what have become relatively small flaws.

There are complementary Irish broadcast and American journalistic approaches and emphases. Where Is George Gibney? now has justified its own, and has the juice to move forward toward real action holding Gibney and his many institutional enablers accountable.

Irvin writes at Concussion.net.

Previously: Irvin Muchnick on Broadsheet


From top: George Gibney; BBC Sounds/Second Captains podcast ‘Where Is George Gibney?’; Irvin Muchnick

I don’t expect to be named Miss Congeniality for having to break the news to folks in Ireland that the BBC/Second Captains podcast Where Is George Gibney?, despite being hyped to the heavens by the herd of independent minds in the Anglo-Irish media, is pitifully exploitative and faux-earnest, and that its practitioners are callow.

In the just-aired episode about Gibney’s rape of a 17-year-old Irish swimmer, pseudonymously called “Susan,” on a 1991 training trip in Tampa, Florida, producer-narrator Mark Horgan tracks down her sister for the purpose of, among other things, sharing with the audience the indispensable factoids that this sexual assault victim boasted a perfect breaststroke kick and the physical beauty of a model.

Not noted is that the victim herself was interviewed in explicit detail on RTÉ television back in 2006.

Generally, the new podcast seems happy to make fair use of archival audio — but only when the content in question conveniently aligns with the new project’s template of rewriting, and adding slick production values to, what was already reported and re-reported, even in the Irish media. The priority is a patina of freshness and exclusivity.

Meanwhile, Horgan devotes exactly one sentence to recording the rejection of criminal charges against Gibney by Ireland’s director of public prosecutions. The DPP, Horgan glibly avers, “did not have jurisdiction” over Susan’s rape.


In fact, Susan was one of four former swimmers of Gibney’s Trojans team who lodged abuse allegations against the two-time Irish Olympic coach, prompting a fresh investigation by gardai in Blackrock, County Dublin.

In declining to pursue his extradition, the DPP office decided they were unmoved by the body of new evidence against him. As noted in my  last article, this was in 1996.

And if jurisdiction was the sticking point in justice for Susan, then how, pray tell, does that square with the DPP’s revisiting her case yet again in 2004 (with the same result)?

The sad bottom line of this podcast series has become clearer and clearer:

The Horgan crew appeared to have no desire to use their BBC platform to assist in a global reckoning for the abuses of an Olympic sports system that turns millions of kids in extracurricular activities into vessels of our bread-and-circuses fantasies, while covering up the worst outcomes, many of them heinous.

In the interview of Susan’s sister, she betrays this superficiality. The tragedy of her sibling’s ruined life is, yes of course, that Susan, following multiple suicide attempts, would turn into a mental patient who required institutionalisation. But the other tragedy is the one about how the evil coach dashed a family’s dreams of Olympic glory — Susan’s, directly, and their parents’, vicariously.

Thus does our world devolve into full-tilt jockocracy, a place where the ultimate grievance is the one expressed by the Marlon Brando character in On the Waterfront: “I could have been a contender. I could have been somebody.”

For me, the derivative and thoroughly sophomoric nature of Where Is George Gibney? was evident from the first second of the first episode.

In that moment, Horgan and his cohort set off on a purportedly breathless, carefully engineered stakeout of an old man. Actually, Gibney was long known to be playing out the end of his miserable life in a house on Breakwater Drive in Altamonte Springs, Florida. Whether there is an actual punchline for this extended contrivance remains to be heard.

For the latest episode, Ireland’s answers to the Hardy Boys of children’s mystery books tell podcast listeners that they have changed pursuit cars for their undercover op.

Subscribing to the Michael Moore school of documentary making, Horgan must convey everything through his own eyes. Unfortunately, he lacks Moore’s wit and sense of purpose.

One of my Irish-American readers got it right.

Where Is George Gibney?, this reader wrote me early on, is “like an Australian one, The Teacher’s Pet, which turned a sordid but potentially interesting story into an irritating endurance test. My wife has difficulty listening to any Australian accents as a result.”

Irvin Muchnick writes at Concussion.net

Previously: Gibney Didn’t Vanish

Shallow Hype

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



Journalist Irvin Muchnick (above) will Answer A Broadsheet Reader.

Please leave any questions on Gibney, the BBC Sounds/Second Captains podcast or any other matters for Irvin below.

UPDATE: Irvin answers

Previously: Answer A broadsheet Reader on Broadsheet

From top: Susan Denham; Patrick Gageby; BBC Sounds/Second Captains podcast Where Is George Gibney?

Irvin Muchnick writes

It’s as good a time as any to point out, and against the popular tide, that the hyped new BBC Sounds podcast Where Is George Gibney? has yet to bring itself to share with listeners the details behind what is vaguely and passively called his “vanishing” from justice for 26 years.

To its credit, episode 4 of the podcast, which started airing today, does acknowledge the impediment of Irish defamation law.

However, the episode does not go on to mention the punches that were pulled in the media, then and in this very production, as a result.

That core element is the legal reasoning that the two-time Irish Olympic swimming coach, charged with 27 counts of sexual assault of underage victims, could not receive a fair trial due to the passage of time.

And that the Supreme Court panel which made this possible included Justice Susan Denham. later a Chief Justice, who was in “complete agreement” with this chilling decision.

AND among Gibney’s legal team before the court? Patrick Gageby, Denham’s brother.

Following the judgment, which led to a High Court judicial review which quashed all of Gibney’s charges, a number of applications on the basis of delayed complaint were made through the courts in Ireland, with Mr Gageby managing to throw out charges against at least seven alleged child rapists on these grounds.

What their father, the storied Irish Times editor Douglas Gageby, made of all this is not recorded. In fact, outside of a small court report in his old paper, the judgement was hardly noted.

Mr Gageby Jnr would later tell a legal conference in 2003 that he believed there was a ‘subversion of the presumption of innocence’ with historic sexual abuse cases.

Making him the perfect candidate, therefore, to be appointed in 2007, by your then Minister for Justice Michael McDowell, to review the case of Cynthia Owen and the ‘Dalkey House of Horrors’, which, of course, concerned…historical sexual abuse.

Mr Gageby’s review of the original, deeply flawed investigation did not recommend any further action be taken. And the beat goes on.

Today, thanks to the podcast by Mark Horgan and Second Captains, news consumers can access interviews of Gibney survivors, always disclaimed upfront with alerts that children and those with weak stomachs should consider donning earmuffs to protect against the strong “adult” language and situations.

Additionally, we are privileged with exclusive rambling tease passages about stalking a septuagenarian in a Florida suburb and unnerving the neighbors.

But mumbling a word about possible institutional cronyism that has fueled and sustained sexual abuse by powerful figures in Ireland since time immemorial, and remains unchecked and unaccounted for?

Nooo. Can’t have that.

For my own 2019 ebook, repurposing and bulleting my now nearly six-year-long investigation of Gibney’s flight to America, accompanied by a report on the two-continent campaign to do something about it, I educated myself on Ireland’s unique brand of self-censorship.

The explanation given to me was that the country’s legal system simply doesn’t support what an outsider would call unfiltered investigative journalism.

Maybe even that formulation is too cagey, using verbiage that tracks the syndrome itself. The way I put it is that, in basic ways, the Irish just don’t permit themselves to tell it like it is.

Their news media not only are expected to modulate controversial conclusions; they also are prohibited from publishing fundamental facts and letting others arrive at their own conclusions.

One Irish journalist contact told me this:

“I can’t recall any publication airing the apparent conflict of interest in this case [Denham-Gageby]. I did bring it up with editors in the past and it was too sensitive an issue to run with. The point is a lot of people knew about it so what were we going to say? Obviously the answer to that is there was a conflict of interest.

But Irish law is not the same as in the USA. We have for example no First Amendment. If there was any imputation of wrongdoing on the part of a Supreme Court judge there would have been legal consequences. I did bring it up but it didn’t get past the door.

I have in recent months looked at it again and spoke to a number of legal eagles including a spokesman for the Bar Council. They agree that because of the size of the small population of Irish lawyers in the business, the collegiate nature of the law and the family connections, it was not that unusual. Gageby was regularly in the Supreme Court and the belief among legal people is that they are all above it.

I believe it is an staggeringly arrogant position to take and have trouble believing that there is no conflict of interest.

That said, yes it’s difficult to get anyone to run with it.”

Another emailed me:

“It would have been defamatory in Irish law to imply that there might have been any influence exerted by the sibling relationship between the judge and the senior counsel. It is arguable that lawyers for an accused person must have equal access to the courts. Defamation law here has been slightly relaxed [in recent years]…. Ireland’s defamation laws are draconian and censorious.”

The Irish media problem is part of the Irish cultural problem in confronting the Gibney legacy.

I’ll be continuing to follow and report on it.


Previously: Irvin Muchnik on Broadsheet

From top: Where Is George Gibney? podcast promotional material;Mark Horgan; George Gibney; Irvin Muchnik

This afternoon.

Following the release earlier today of the first episode of the much-heralded podcast ‘Where Is George GIbney?’, US investigative journalist Irvin Muchnik, who has been on the trail of the swimming coach since 2015, writes:

The first of what I believe are a projected 10 episodes of the documentary series Where Is George Gibney? is now out.

In an overlong and indulgent half-hour, this production of Ireland’s Second Captains podcast, in association with the British Broadcasting Corporation’s BBC Sounds, sets things up with the story of Irish swimming great Gary O’Toole feeling the scales fall from his eyes as Chalkie White, on a plane en route to the world championships in Perth, Australia, in 1990, confides Gibney’s sexual abuse of White decades earlier.

The problem here, however, is not length. The problem, rather, is head producer, writer, and narrator Mark Horgan’s penchant for self-stoked drama.

Before we hear from O’Toole and White, we get an extension of the throat-clearing hype that has marked the months-long run-up to this series. Horgan, it seems, has “found” George Gibney, who had “vanished.”

Gibney didn’t vanish.

He moved to the United States after an Irish Supreme Court panel in 1994, which included Justice Susan Denham, sister of his barrister Patrick Gageby, allowed a judicial review into the ‘fairness’ of his 27-count indictment for carnal knowledge of minors.

Seven swimmers had come forward and sworn statements to the Gardaí that Gibney had assaulted them at various times between 1967 and 1981.

However, The Supreme Court granted Mr Gibney leave to apply for a review (which quashed all charges) on the basis that his right to a fair trial might possibly have been infringed because of a delay in initiating the charges.

It was the first case (long since revised) in Ireland to recognise that a delay in making a complaint of sexual abuse could preclude a subsequent prosecution.

And Gibney got to America with one of the so-called “lottery” Donnelly diversity visa privileges of that period.

Six months ago I wrote that I would be listening for whether this highly anticipated series would bring listeners significant fresh information, or simply prove “to be applying, for the umpteenth time, broadcast production values to old information.”

Regardless, I added, I planned to tip my hat if the podcast proved to be the vehicle that finally pushed over the top justice for Gibney and accountability for his friends in high places and for swimming authorities in both Ireland and the U.S.

Let’s all hope the remaining episodes of Where Is George Gibney? do better. But in order to do better, Horgan will have to make some of his Central Casting crutches “vanish.”

Gibney is a monster, for sure. But it’s high time for storytellers to push past the tropes of monster-sketching and into analysis of the systemic pathologies of the youth programmes that serve as farm clubs for the bread-and-circuses Olympic system. It takes a village to make a monster.

Horgan’s breathless opening stakeout of Gibney, foreshadowed in Irish press pre-coverage, is juvenile. It dribbles off into the generic awe of brushing past this now pathetic old man at a store, after the Second Captains crew shadowed him on the drive there, whispering lame directives to each other like addicts of police procedurals.

The scene lacks even the payoff of a confrontation audio, similar to the scene in the 2006 television piece on RTÉ’s Prime Time, in which reporter Clare Murphy thrust a microphone in Gibney’s face in a parking lot in Calistoga, California (In 2017, Concussion Inc. unearthed a 13-minute segment; our edit of it is viewable here).

Sources in Florida tell me that Horgan and company botched their Gibney stakeout. Rejecting local advice to notify the police as to why they were parking their van overnight near the house Gibney shares with “Brother Pedro” on Breakwater Drive, the crew wound up getting called out by neighbors, who were concerned about the mystery vehicle parked on their block.

Where is George Gibney? (BBC Sounds/Second Captains)

Previously: Shallow Hype

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

From top: Where Is George Gibney by BBC/ Second Captains will be broadcast next month; Irvin Muchnik

The hype machine is cranking for the BBC/Second Captains podcast documentary series on George Gibney.

This would suggest that the series will, indeed, be dropping next month, after a postponement of the original air date with the implausible explanation that the delay was “due to the current global pandemic.”

Let’s hope the BBC Sounds podcast does a good job of telling the story of the now-climaxing US federal government investigation of Gibney’s status as a permanent resident alien — 25 years after his arrival on a mysteriously timely diversity lottery visa.

And a decade after he failed in an application for U.S. citizenship because he had lied on it about his 1993 indictment in Ireland on 27 counts of sexual abuse of youth athletes is his charge.

These instances of molestation, certified as “vindication” for Gibney’s accusers in a 1998 Irish government report, included his rape and impregnation of a 17-year-old during a 1991 training trip in Tampa, Florida, by his club, the Trojans, out of Newpark Comprehensive School in Blackrock, County Dublin.

This week, two BBC hype articles, one in the Irish Times and the other in the industry-captive Swimming World magazine, recycle the the Gibney saga while ignoring everything that has happened in the last five years.

Events such as the current federal investigation launched after the 2017 settlement, at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, of this reporter’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for documents from Gibney’s immigration file.

Of special interest to those who want to keep current is an American swimming coaching job offer letter to Gibney, with all salient features completely redacted.

U.S. District Court Senior Judge Charles R. Breyer, in ruling “(mostly) in Muchnick’s favor,” cited my reporting of suspicions that John Leonard and the American Swimming Coaches Association had “greased the wheels” for Gibney’s safe harbour here.

The first hype piece was  “Game Changers: Gary O’Toole took a stand when others turned their heads,” in Saturday’s Irish Times,. It is a typical  Gibney history boilerplate from the Irish media, with appropriate kudos to the great Gary O’Toole, a root whistleblower.

The second hype piece merits special comment: As BBC Counts Down To “Where’s George Gibney” Podcast, Efforts Of Dr. Gary O’Toole To End Abuse Are Back In Focus – Swimming World News

The author, Craig Lord, a British journalist, ran a website called SwimVortex for five years. In 2019 Lord became editor-in-chief of Swimming World.

At the time of his shutdown of SwimVortex, Lord was in the middle of a controversy over his claim that ASCA’s Leonard had shared with him documents proving his innocence of any suggestion that either he or his organization had helped agent Gibney’s transatlantic relocation. (See the four spring 2018 Concussion Inc. articles below)

It hardly needs to be added that today’s Swimming World entry by Lord makes no mention of the controversy of two years ago.

Elliptically and irrelevantly, Lord does write:

“In the course of our own research, Swimming World has had sight of letters in which the American Swimming Coaches Association alerts potential employers to Gibney’s past, as well as other exchanges in which Gibney complains, through a lawyer, to ASCA that he is being prevented from gaining work by ASCA’s interventions.”

In addition to not producing these documents or even quoting verbatim from any of them, Swimming World crucially does not clarify whether such ASCA communications came before or after Gibney’s employment as coach of the USA Swimming age-group club in Arvada, Colorado, in 1995.


What American Swimming Coaches Association Boss John Leonard Is Now Saying About ASCA and George Gibney Doesn’t Add Up,” March 9, 2018,

“John Leonard’s Mouthpiece, Craig Lord of SwimVortex, ‘Will Think About’ Sharing Purported Documents of American Swimming Coaches Association Chief’s ‘Damning Evidence’ That Supposedly Kept George Gibney From Getting Employed in Colorado,” March 22, 2018

“Craig ‘I’m a Journalist’ Lord of SwimVortex Is ‘Working On’ a Story About ‘Documents’ That Purport to Show American Swimming Coaches Association’s John Leonard Did Right in George Gibney’s U.S. Visa and Colorado Coaching Job Scenario,” March 27, 2018,

“Craig Lord Shuts Down SwimVortex — And Stays Silent Over the Mystery ‘Documents’ That He Claimed Exonerate American Swimming Coaches Association Boss John Leonard in the George Gibney Cover-Up,” May 2, 2018

Previously: George Gibney on Broadsheet

From top: Burlington Hotel; Monday’s Irish Daily Star; former Olympic swimming coaches George Gibney (left) and Ger Doyle

This afternoon.

Ger Doyle succeeded the disgraced George Gibney as national swimming coach in 1992. He would remain in that position until 2005.

In July 2012, Doyle was jailed for six-and-a-half years after a conviction on 34 counts of indecent assault against young children.

Unlike Gibney, Doyle served prison time before his ‘sudden death’ over the weekend at 59.

Investigative sports journalist irvin Muchnik , of Concussion Inc,  who has been on the trail of George Gibney for half a decade, writes:

The newspaper stories of Ger Doyle’s death do not run down Doyle’s connections to Gibney and the widespread coach sexual abuse scandals in the Irish swimming program that brought about the dissolution of the Irish Amateur Swimming Association (IASA) in 1998 and its rebranding as Swim Ireland.

Like coaching colleague Derry O’Rourke, Doyle served prison time for molesting youth swimmers.

Another leading coach and IASA official, Frank McCann, was imprisoned for the murder of his wife and their baby daughter, by means of burning down their house — his way to conceal from her knowledge of his rape and impregnation of an underage girl.

In 2016, reviewing all this history in a ruling in my favor in my Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security for material from Gibney’s immigration files, U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Breyer wrote that Gibney was the one who “got away.

At the final hearing, addressing Gibney’s continued presence in this country despite a failed application for naturalized citizenship in 2010, Breyer said from the bench:

“I have to assume that if somebody has been charged with the types of offenses that Mr. Gibney has been charged with, the United States, absent other circumstances, would not grant a visa. We’re not a refuge for pedophiles.

In 2017, a woman in Ireland contacted Concussion Inc. with a previously unreported instance of allegations of sex crimes by Gibney: his molestation of her in 1982, at age 11, during a private swimming instruction at the pool of Dublin’s Burlington Hotel.

In the account of the alleged victim, “Julia,” Ger Doyle was working as the “lifeguard” at the pool and looked on.

Anglo-Irish Podcast Series on George Gibney Is Delayed Until August. And Gibney’s Sexual Abuse Accomplice, Ger Doyle, Just Died. (Concussion Inc)

Death of disgraced coach Ger Doyle (Wexford People)

Previously: George Gibney on Broadsheet.