Investigative journalist Irvin Muchnick explained on Wednesday's OTB AM why he believes that the US-based George Gibney will come under increasing pressure from the American government in 2019, and could face extradition back to the Republic of Ireland.
The former Irish swimming coach was accused of 27 counts of indecent assault and unlawful carnal knowledge though escaped conviction following a Supreme Court ruling in 1993.
Shortly thereafter, George Gibney departed Ireland for Scotland, before relocating once more to America where he still lives to this day.
Irvin Muchnick, an investigative journalist who has ceaselessly worked on uncovering details surrounding Gibney and his case, explained to Off the Ball that he believes 2019 will be a "key year in the hunt for Gibney."
Outlining the logic upholding this assessment, Muchnick admits that it has taken some time for the US public and authorities to take an active interest in the allegations made against George Gibney.
"There's been no shortage of institutional memory and public knowledge of the Gibney case in Ireland," Muchnick explained, "but not so in the United States where Gibney has been hiding in plain sight for what is now going on a quarter-of-a-century.
"There are three things, [however], that have happened that I believe make 2019 the key year in the hunt for Gibney."
"First of all, in 2010 Irish-American activist Evin Daly, who founded the group One Child International in Florida, pressured Gibney in a way that seemed to force his hand, made him panic and apply for American citizenship," Muchnick stated.
"The second thing that happened was my freedom of information act case against the Department of Homeland Security and the American government.
"While it didn't bring us all the smoking guns that many of us would like in the Gibney story, it did smoke out the American government to reveal what happened in 2010 when Gibney applied for citizenship.
"He was denied citizenship on the grounds that he lied on his application about his criminal indictment in Ireland, he concealed it.
"On the other hand, the American government decided that he was not a candidate for removal from the country because he had never been convicted of a crime. So this is a kind of catch-22."
The intensified awareness and willingness with which American society is responding to sexual crimes also plays a prominent role in Muchnick's belief that George Gibney's status as a US resident will come under greater scrutiny in 2019.
"What's happening in 2019 is that all of this is playing out in the backdrop of widespread sexual abuse scandals in America; most notably in USA gymnastics, but also other Olympic swimming groups," he said.
"So, there is a general new awareness as a result of that, as a result of the #MeToo movement, and other factors.
"Finally, you have Donald Trump in the White House who is not popular in certain circles, but does have a preference for getting rid of undesirables from the United States.
"Now, often that plays out to the detriment of Muslims and Central Americans, not so much with white Europeans, but the confluence of circumstances seem to be ripe to make the American government mobilise and get rid of some bad actors, and Gibney seems to be in the cross-hairs."
According to Irvin Muchnick's sources, George Gibney's reckoning will play out in a matter of months. However, having spent such a considerable length of time with this investigation, Muchnick is taking nothing for granted just yet.