How did George Gibney get into...

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How did George Gibney get into the US?

Off The Ball
Off The Ball

02:35 25 Jan 2018


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"The story of abuse in swimming and other youth sports programmes is really a global story, not just a story in Ireland, not just a story in the United States," Irvin Muchnick told Off The Ball AM.

Gibney was accused of 27 counts of indecent assault and unlawful carnal knowledge though he escaped conviction following a Supreme Court ruling in 1993.

Following the case, he moved to Scotland before relocating to the US where he lives today.

20 years after the Murphy Inquiry into abuse in Irish swimming, the George Gibney case continues to pose questions.

Muchnick has been following this story and leading a charge to have fresh details regarding his entry to the country released:

"I think that there are two elements to the Gibney story, there's obviously the justice for Gibney's many victims who have gone a quarter of a century or more with no closure on these heinous, terrible allegations against Gibney, which were largely validated in the 1998 Murphy Inquiry in Ireland," he continued.

When the coach moved to the US his application contained documents related to a job offer which he had received:

"I am interested as well in the accountability of swimming authorities, not just in Ireland, but in the US... The prime suspect for the sponsorship of Gibney and the mysterious letter that he submitted with his visa application in 1992, a job offer letter for coaching in the US, is the American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA)."

ASCA is an independent coaching body which works closely with USA Swimming, the National Governing Body for the sport.

The US authorities cannot release the name of the employer who helped to bring Gibney to the US.

After he arrived in the country, Gibney continued to work as a swimming coach in Colorado for a brief period.

"In talking about ASCA we have to say that it's a little more insidious than just co-operation between organisations of swimming in different countries... Gibney is not the only example of a 'bad actor' in international swimming who's gone from one country to the other under a cloud of sexual misconduct allegations."

"It's a little-understood story of global predation and lack of accountability and oversight of our youth sports programmes."

He compared the pattern of moving coaches to the Catholic Church:

"This shuttling of 'bad actor' coaches from programme to programme, state to state, and even country to country, parish to parish you might say if you want to use the analogy of the Catholic Church scandals, is very troubling."

Muchnick added that he was surprised that Gibney had been allowed to stay in the US after he had an application to become a nationalised US citizen rejected, the journalist notes that be understands that this decision was influenced by the history of sexual misconduct allegations levelled at Gibney.

"It's just mystifying that this character has managed to get a Green Card, renew a Green Card, apply for citizenship, fail to acquire citizenship, and yet still be residing in the US while this history of allegations swirls around him," he told OTB AM.

First hand

Yesterday, former Olympic swimmer Dr Gary O'Toole joined the show the discuss his experiences training under Gibney.

He recalled his own encounter with the coach during a training trip to California as a 10-year-old:

"On that trip, I got terribly homesick, as one would when you are out there for five weeks. I remember breaking down and crying, and just saying 'I want to go home.'

He comforted me, as one would expect of an adult in that kind of a situation. Then I went to bed and I felt fine, but later on that night he snuck into my bedroom, he sat on the end of the bed and said 'Are you feeling okay now?'

"I said, I feel fine. [He said] 'I brought you up this apple,' and he put this apple on the sideboard and then he said, 'Are you sure you're okay? Do you need any more comfort?.'

"I don't know what it was, but immediately alarm bells went off and I said, 'I'm fine. I think you should leave now,' and he left.

In the early 90's Gary O’Toole played a central role in bringing Gibney’s case to public attention.

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