Irvin Muchnik with Maureen Sullivan TD at Leinster House this morning
Leinster House, Dublin 2
Dogged, relentless American sportswriter and investigative journalist Irvin Muchnik is in Dublin until Sunday to meet people involved in efforts to bring fugitive swimming coach George Gibney to justice, including Maurren O’Sullivan TD and Dr Gary O’Toole.
My message is simple: If the goal is to nail, at long last, this disgraced Irish Olympic swim coach who has been hiding in plain sight in my country for a quarter of a century, then all the tools are in place.
Previously we’ve noted that politicians on both sides of the Atlantic must push for direct and formal information-sharing between Ireland’s Garda and U.S. law enforcement — both the federal Justice Department and the office of the state attorney of Hillsborough County, Florida. (Tampa is where Gibney’s known sex crime on American soil occurred, during an Irish swim team training trip in 1991.)
Last year Maurren O’Sullivan met in Washington, D.C., with Congresswoman Jackie Speier, the American politician who is associated with the #MeToo movement and is the unofficial House Democratic majority monitor of youth sports coach abuse issues.
In the current, and evidently culminating, circumstance of a wider investigation of abuses throughout Olympic sports programs, we need a renewed initiative with specific tactics. And Speier and other sympathetic legislators have to heed it and act on it.
Though not directly related, some wind under the sails of the Gibney extradition campaign has emerged in the form of breaking news of the arrest of another accused serial sex abuser, Jeffrey Epstein.
The fresh reporting in my new edition of the George Gibney Chronicles ebook adds a road map for federal investigators of the final furlong of this marathon: important questions surrounding his role in a Colorado church group’s children’s eye clinic mission in Peru around 20 years ago.
From top: The Gibney Chronicles, out this Friday; Its author irvin Muchnik
This Friday, March 1
American sportswriter, author and investigative journalist Irvin Muchnik’s book on Irish Olympic swimming coach George Gibney will be published.
The George Gibney Chronicles is the culmination for Irvin of four years of reporting and a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security.
Gibney moved to the United States in 1995, the year after an unusual and controversial decision by the Supreme Court led to the quashing of his 27 charges for indecent carnal knowledge of minors.
Justice Roderick Murphy’s report into sex abuse and swimming in 1998 concluded that Gibney’s accusers “were vindicated” by the accumulation of Garda evidence.
The ebook is being published at a time when findings of Irvin’s 2017 FOIA case settlement, which disclosed information about Gibney’s American immigration file, could result in his deportation.
Calling 2019 “the year of reckoning,” Irvin says in the introduction that American government sources say conclusion of Gibney’s “unusual immigration scenario” is at hand.
In 2010 Gibney was denied U.S. citizenship because he concealed from his application his Irish criminal indictment. He was not removed from the country, however, and U.S. District Court Senior Judge Charles R. Breyer, in his 2016 FOIA decision in Muchnick’s favor, called the government’s inaction curious. Breyer also cited the author’s suspicion “that the American Swimming Coaches Association greased the wheels for Gibney’s relocation.”
The Gibney Chronicles also examines the legal status of a connecting crime on American soil: Gibney’s rape of a 17-year-old girl in Tampa, Florida, in 1991 while on a training trip with Trojan swimming club which uses the facilities at Newpark Sports Centre.
The George Gibney Chronicles: What the Hunt For the Most Notorious At-Large Sex Criminal in the History of Global Sports Has Told Us About the Sports Establishments and Governments on Two Continents is available here for $3.49.
Anyone without a Kindle-compatible device can receive an emailed PDF copy of the 30,000-word ebook by remitting $3.49 on Paypal to email@example.com.
An earlier version of this article stated that Trojans swim club is ‘from Dublin’s Newpark Comprehensive school’. In a statement, Newpark’s principal Derek Lowry has asked us to clarify:
‘Trojans Swim team do not have any connection to the school but have used Newpark Sports Centre for training for many years. The club pay rent for the use of the pool but there is no other connection with the school and the members of the club do not attend the school.’
irivin Muchnik in conversation with OTB:AMyesterday; Larry Nasser (left) and George Gibney
US-based journalist irvin Muchnik writes:
For a long time I have held the view that the Irish victims of George Gibney — perhaps the most notorious at-large sex abuser in international sports history — along with their families and advocates, have done quite enough of the heavy lifting in the quest for long-delayed justice and closure.
Though it’s true that it was the warps in the Irish criminal justice system that initially let Gibney off the hook for his crimes there, and it was cronyism and corruption in high places there that smoothed his passage to the United States, there should be a proverbial statute of limitations on repeated dashed expectations.
Somewhere along the way of the past quarter of a century, roaming unaccountably free across Colorado, Utah, California, Florida, and points in between, Gibney became, fundamentally, a problem for his pliant hosts, the Americans, to grasp and resolve.
My recently concluded Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security for Gibney’s immigration records establishes that friendly forces in the US enabled the perpetuation of this heinous global sports cover-up.
In all likelihood, it was the apparatchiks of the American Swimming Coaches Association who set up Gibney at the North Jeffco Swim Club in Arvada, Colorado, in the mid-1990s.
And after Gibney, in an apparent panic, filed for naturalized citizenship some 16 years into his unsettled, multi-state alien residency here — and concealed from the application his 27-count criminal indictment in Ireland — it was the American government, in 2010, that curiously ruled, in conjunction with the rejection of that application, that he could not be deported.
Therefore, it is up to people of the US to stand up for what is right.
Stand up for what Judge Charles R. Breyer, in the final hearing of the FOIA case, aptly called a determination of whether our immigration system was a perversity, some sort of “haven for pedophiles.”
No Irish authority can compel the American government to look hard and honorably at the peculiar loopholes Gibney exploited in order to become, in his senescence, ingrained in the community of Altamonte Springs, Florida, like a retired Treblinka gate guard.
No bloc of Irish voters exists to pressure American politicians to probe the bizarre and contradictory moves documented in the Gibney file by, first, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and, second, U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS).
Anyway, this has been my position.
But this week it changed.
It changed because an independent and overarching event intervened. A sicko doctor at Michigan State University named Larry Nassar was convicted and sentenced in his molestations of well over 100 girls and young women under the aegis of USA Gymnastics.
Heads are rolling at both institutions.
In their wake is a unique, indeed historic, opportunity to join the campaign to extradite and try George Gibney with the newly risen awareness of the abuses of power, safety, and decency throughout the youth programs of Olympic sports bodies everywhere.
And that is why I appeal to those good people in Ireland to suck it up one more time and make their voices heard to those Americans with good instincts on this issue.
They include Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congresswoman Jackie Speier, to whom Teachta Dála Maureen O’Sullivan last month already asked for help in the Gibney matter.
Such help must go beyond merely “raising questions” about immigration procedures. It also must facilitate the sharing of information collected by the Irish government (principally in reports of An Garda Síochána, the national police, and in the 1998 Murphy Inquiry into sexual abuse in Irish swimming) with appropriate American agencies (most especially the prosecutors’ offices in Florida, site of Gibney’s known heinous crime on American soil).
When the last page of the last chapter is written on George Gibney, it will not be the story of an individual monster, any more than Larry Nassar’s was. It will be a web of epic failures of the money-driven tropisms of kid sports programs.
They were supposed to be all about physical fitness and healthy competition. Instead, they became about gold medals and the runaway gravy train of the bureaucrats and obscenely well-heeled executives of the Olympic movement.
Coaches like to exhort their athletes: Give me one more lap. After bearing lifelong psychological damage and heartache, some for as long as 50 years, those who were scarred by Gibney, and those who support them, need to go ’round one more time here. There are no guarantees that we’ll succeed. But there’s the certainly that we can’t, unless we try.
For those of you just tuning in, here are key data points:
1990: In an elliptical conversation on a plane flight to an international competition, Irish Olympic swimmer Gary O’Toole is first tipped that Gibney had molested athletes beginning more than 20 years earlier. O’Toole starts designing the mechanisms to canvass Irish swimmers and get the word out to sport authorities and police.
1991: On a training trip, Gibney rapes and impregnates a 17-year-old swimmer he had earlier violated in Holland. The girl is drugged by an Irish swimming official and taken to England for a secret abortion.
1992: Gibney successfully applies for a US. visa under the Donnelly diversity lottery program. He attaches to his application both an American job offer letter and a “certificate of character” from a Garda precinct. The certificate, representing that Gibney enjoyed a spotless record, was issued at a point when allegations of the coach’s abuse were already surfacing and multiplying.
1993: Gibney is indicted on 27 counts of sex crimes against minors.
1994: The Irish Supreme Court halts Gibney’s prosecution on the grounds that some of the charges date too far back to allow a fair trial. One of the sitting justices, Susan Denham (later the chief justice), did not recuse herself from the case even though she is the sister of Gibney’s barrister Patrick Gageby.
Gibney moves to the US by way of Scotland.
1995: Gibney leaves the Colorado swim club where he was a coach following an allegation of sexual misconduct. He is not charged with a crime, but the episode leads to the outing of his Irish past in the local community and sparks many years of nomadic American residence and employment outside the aquatics industry.
1998: The Murphy Commission concludes, “In light of the charges arising out of the Garda investigation the complainants were vindicated.”
2006: RTÉ’s Prime Time interviews Gibney victims on camera (including the victim of the 1991 Florida rape); confronts Gibney in Calistoga, California; and quotes the local sheriff confirming that Gibney was on the radar of both the local sheriff’s office and the FBI.
2008: Justine McCarthy publishes the book Deep Deception: Ireland’s Swimming Scandals.
2010: Irish-American Evin Daly, head of the Florida anti-abuse organization One Child International, publishes information on Gibney’s history and submits it to the federal government.
Gibney applies for citizenship.
In an internal memorandum, the government’s ICE agency memorializes the opinion that Gibney is not removable from the country
After first warning Gibney that his citizenship application was defective in its answer to the question of whether he had ever been charged with or convicted of a crime, USCIS denies the application.