Tag Archives: George Gibney

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.

Bravo.

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

Getty

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.

Bullshit.

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

Meanwhile…

Tonight.

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.

Concussion.net

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.

Related:

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.


George Gibney (left); Journalist and author Irvin Muchnik

With a major new BBC/Second Captains podcast series on George Gibney scheduled for release in May, Irvin Muchnik, who has been on the trail of the swimming coach for years, details recent developments in the US and his lengthy struggle getting even Irish media interested in Gibney.

Irvin writes:

Hobbled by George Gibney’s lack of name recognition on this side of the Atlantic, and pusillanimous by nature when it comes to tackling important sexual assault narratives until they are either the flavour of the month or have risen, in the cliché, to the level of “a dead girl or a live boy”, major American outlets have been slow to pick up on the documented reporting so far published only at my modest-circulation platforms.

The current connection to the more general and better-understood federal grand jury investigation of USA Swimming is a hook for which I remain hopeful for major coverage, though I am not unrealistically optimistic.

Definitive action on George Gibney seems to be one of those chicken-and-egg or “Alphonse-and-Gaston” processes, with multiple moving parts.

Will the Irish government ask for Gibney’s extradition before they are certain that the return answer would be ‘yes’?

Will the US government seek to deport Gibney before being issued a formal extradition request?

And perhaps equally important: In the realpolitik always factoring into such matters, will US Department of Justice’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MALRS) office ever flip the switch on absent pressure from a more powerful media player than myself?

In 2016, during an early stage of my Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation, I was interviewed for a segment on Fox News called Sports Court. You can view the clip, “Gov’t hiding immigration docs on accused pedophile,” here.

Ironically, the interviewer and producer of Sports Court, Tamara Holder, herself would resign from Fox News late that year as part of a multimillion-dollar settlement of a claim that she was sexually harassed and assaulted by an executive.

Holder thus became part of the real-life narrative of the current movie Bombshell, which is mostly about Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson, two higher-profile ex-Fox News personalities.

Later in 2016, with the help of a friend of mine who was a San Francisco Chronicle columnist, the newspaper’s long-time federal courts reporter, Bob Egelko, was enlisted to write about Judge Breyer’s FOIA ruling.

And that’s it for American media on George Gibney.

Heinous scandals with long tails — whether they’re Jeffrey Epstein or Bill Cosby or Harvey Weinstein or George Gibney — are always festivals of missed opportunities.

In 2014 Chuck Wielgus, the chief executive of USA Swimming, withdrew from his scheduled induction into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in response to a petition campaign by abuse victims who raised the public consciousness of his two-decade role in covering up their cases — and in at least one of them, committing unindicted perjury.

At the time, George Diaz, a columnist for the Orlando Sentinel, bragged to me that his column opining “Why does this man still have a job?” was “one of the five entries that got me a Top 10 acknowledgment by Associated Press Sports Editors as one of the top columnists in the country.”

I found this a strange boast, insofar as (a) on the front end, Diaz had not been responsible for exposing Wielgus’s administration and lies, and (b) on the back end, in any case, Wielgus would remain in his million-dollar-a-year post until he died in 2017. One of the top ten yapping jackals of a fortnight’s media scrum? For sure. Hands down.

But the reason I bring this up is something else: The Orlando Sentinel was George Gibney’s now-home market, and for years I importuned Diaz to jump into the pool on this story, which looked to be right in his wheelhouse. (He did columns mentioning his adoption of a foster child and he advocated for that population.) Yet nothing ever happened.

In November 2014, Diaz told me he had been out sick for three weeks.

In February 2015, Diaz said he was tied up with coverage of the Daytona 500 motor race, but he promised to put Gibney “on the radar screen ASAP”.

In August 2015, Diaz wrote to me, “I have to be honest, I really have been meaning to get to this, but so slammed…”

June 2017: “I will be in touch with editors today. Trust me the issue is not lack of interest…it’s lack of manpower and time…given all the cutbacks that have faced newspapers through the years it’s simply a matter of Last Man (or Woman) standing.”

April 2018: Diaz was downsized out of his column at the Sentinel.

November 2018: The Orlando Sentinel laid off George Diaz.

Then we have the tale of Outside magazine. In early 2018, in the wake of the FOIA settlement with the government and the then-exploding scandal of USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, I was approached by an old college friend who is the No. 2 editor at Outside.

He suggested that I write the definitive George Gibney feature article for his publication. “Let’s go win a National Magazine Award,” he said. This editor told me he had served as a panelist for the award in the past. Again — the solicitation was from him to me, not the other way around.

Over the course of three months, and with the editor’s guidance, I wrote, then rewrote, then re-rewrote, a story pitch. It was a verbal beatdown of little journalistic acuity. But it did have all trappings of a Hollywood scenarist vying for studio funding.

At long last, my friend the No. 2 editor came back with definitive word from his boss, the No. 1 editor: Outside would be thrilled to have me write a few hundred words about this little brouhaha for the magazine’s website. Then, perhaps, somewhere down the road, a print feature when … when … when …

Saying anything further about all this would be redundant and petulant. The Gibney story is not about me.

Irish media

Irish media counterparts have been a different kettle of fish. They know who George Gibney is, of course, and they episodically obsess over how he was “the one who got away,” while other prominent Irish swimming coaches of his generation went to prison for less (Derry O’Rourke, Ger Doyle), and one for perhaps more (Frank McCann — he murdered his wife and their baby daughter, by burning down their house with them in it, to prevent them from learning that he had raped and impregnated one of his young swimmers).

The Irish media are also hamstrung by the lack of a First Amendment and an accompanying tradition of chilling defamation laws.

And like the public at large, they are often uniquely fatigued and paralysed by the agonizing unspooling of the historical legacies of sexual abuses at many institutions — especially but not only the Catholic Church.

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BBC Sounds; former Irish swimming coach George Gibney; tweet from Second Captains

Yesterday.

It was announced that BBC Sounds will soon be hosting a new podcast series called Where Is George Gibney? by Second Captains producer Mark Horgan.

Gibney was charged with 27 counts of indecency against young swimmers and of carnal knowledge of girls under the age of 15 in Ireland in April, 1993.

However, he moved to the United States in 1995, the year after an unusual and controversial decision by the Supreme Court led to the quashing of these charges.

He was also granted a visa during a visit to the United States in 1992 – seemingly aided by a Garda character reference – a year after people who had been abused by him started to speak up and organise themselves.

Justice Roderick Murphy’s later Government-commissioned report into sex abuse and Irish swimming in 1998 concluded that Gibney’s accusers “were vindicated” by the accumulation of Garda evidence.

BBC Sounds launches 20 new podcasts and music programmes (BBC)

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

Bringing Gibney To Book

The Irvin Files

Mr Muchnick Goes To Dublin

From top: Former Irish swimming coach George Gibney; journalist Irvin Muchnick 

In America, groups of citizens can be brought together to work as grand juries which investigate potential criminal conduct and decide whether criminal charges should be brought.

They make this determination after obtaining and reviewing documents and other evidence, and perhaps hearing sworn testimonies of witnesses.

US journalist Irvin Muchnick reports that a grand jury is currently investigating USA Swimming in New York and, within that, questions are being asked about former Irish swimming coach George Gibney.

Mr Muchnick writes:

“The year began with what my ebook on the hunt for George Gibney called an “educated prediction” that “2019 will be the year of reckoning” for the former Irish Olympic swimming coach.

Gibney remains harboured in my country, the United States, a quarter of a century after he skated prosecution on 27 counts of child sexual abuse thanks to a controversial technical ruling by the Irish Supreme Court, and more than 20 years after the Irish government’s Murphy Inquiry “vindicated” his accusers.

In a legal Catch-22 laid bare by a federal judge’s 2016 ruling in my favor in a Freedom of Information Act case for Gibney’s American immigration records, his 2010 citizenship application got rejected.

(The applicant was probably making a panicked effort to shut down, once and for all, efforts to extradite and try him for his crimes, including one committed on US soil in 1991.)

At the same time, however, the government decided that Gibney was “not removable,” and his permanent resident alien status was kept intact. The reason given was that he has not been convicted of a crime.

Well, 2019 is drawing to a close and Gibney is still here. But my holiday message to Irish friends is that something important still seems to be happening with him, and soon.

Last week one of my sources, who is close to a secret grand jury investigation in New York whose non-Gibney aspects have been voluminously reported by the Wall Street Journal and other major newspapers, told me that additional persons recently testified to the grand jury regarding Gibney.

This is where I need to explain, yet again, what is and is not driving the US investigation of Gibney.

Not appearing to drive the investigation is any particular moral imperative to bring to justice a person I call the most notorious at-large sex criminal in the history of global sport.

What is happening, rather, is what I call the “chum in the water” model for getting Gibney. This lacks some of the focus and clarity desired by advocates for Gibney’s likely scores of victims.

But the good news is that it could bring about the same desired and long-overdue outcome.

The main task of the grand jury is handing down indictments for sexual abuse cover-ups at USA Swimming – and perhaps more important, insurance fraud, some of it involving the organisation’s now-defunct reinsurance subsidiary, the Barbados-based “United States Sports Insurance Company.”

For, you see, money dictates the priorities of the legal system, along with just about everything else.

The backdrop is the embarrassment of the federal authorities two years ago, when they were exposed as having been asleep at the switch in the scandals surrounding Larry Nassar, the pervert doctor of USA Gymnastics.

The current grand jury now is probing parallel cover-ups at USA Swimming, the grist of which has long been in the pipeline of multiple Federal Bureau of Investigation field offices.

Simultaneous with this is a development spurred by various news headlines and this #MeToo moment: 15 of the 50 individual states have relaxed statute of limitations standards.

Associated Press reporting found that, for the Catholic Church, resulting new litigation “could surpass anything the nation’s clergy sexual abuse crisis has seen before, with potentially more than 5,000 new cases and payouts topping $4 billion.”

Gibney is one of several real and live offshoots of the grand jury investigation of swimming.

As I reported in July with the publication of an updated edition of my Gibney ebook, these investigators are not examining just the ambiguities in his old immigration paperwork.

They are looking at his work as chair of a children’s medical mission in Peru in the late 1990’s, sponsored by a Catholic parish in Colorado — the first of several states of his US odyssey.

I have further reported that the church mission may be connected to the expansion into the US of a right-wing Peruvian sect called Sodalitium Christianae Vitae (“Fellowship of Christian Life”). The Sodalitium’s founder, Luis Fernando Figari, lives in seclusion in Rome, and today is disavowed by the group, following the separate publications of its own independent investigation and of a book by two Peruvian journalists, which document horrifying allegations of widespread sexual abuse and kidnapping.

Last month the US attorney in New York, Geoffrey Berman, who is directing the grand jury, declined to comment on my reporting – first to an Irish media outlet and then to me.

But note that Berman didn’t deny the accuracy of my reporting, either.

My own query to the US attorney had included the name of the co-coordinator of that office’s work on human trafficking, who is said to be spearheading the Gibney aspect of the grand jury probe.

At this point, unfortunately, only the Off the Ball podcast and the Irish Sun have chosen to ramp up my newest Gibney findings.

The Irish Times and the Times of London, which seem most interested in recycling their greatest hits of two decades ago, have not.

But just because many major news media, in America as well as in Ireland, are too cautious to risk reinforcing the reporting of a lone freelance journalist does not invalidate its truthfulness and thoroughness.

So to those who remain hopeful, I say: Hang in there. And Happy Holidays.”

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

Unreasonable Delay

Irvin Muchnick on Broadsheet