The fate of George John Gibney, former coach of the Irish Olympic swimming team in 1984 and 1988, has become a significant news story in Ireland. However, it has received little attention in American media. Gibney has been living in the U.S. as a quasi-fugitive for over 25 years, facing numerous allegations of sexual abuse. Recent reports from multiple Irish news outlets indicate that the Garda Síochána, Ireland’s national police agency, has recommended indicting Gibney on up to 50 counts of sexual assault based on evidence provided by new victims.
The BBC podcast series “Where Is George Gibney?” produced by Irish journalist Mark Horgan played a crucial role in bringing forward new information. During the production and aftermath of the podcast, 18 survivors provided the gardaí with details of previously uninvestigated incidents. This evidence may finally break through the resistance of the director of public prosecutions (DPP) to pursue a second prosecution against Gibney, which has been ongoing for nearly 30 years. The first prosecution was halted in 1994 by a controversial Irish Supreme Court ruling that deemed the passage of time had compromised Gibney’s right to a fair trial.
Gibney managed to relocate to the U.S. in 1995, shortly after the Supreme Court ruling, using a diversity lottery visa. He even briefly coached for a USA Swimming age-group program in Colorado before his past caught up with him. The potential extradition of Gibney from Florida has been brought to the attention of U.S. authorities.
The podcast “Where Is George Gibney?” focused on Gibney’s actions but did not extensively cover the alleged corruption within the Irish Supreme Court or the possible collusion of the American Swimming Coaches Association in facilitating Gibney’s relocation to the U.S.
Chuck Wielgus, the former chief executive of USA Swimming, was questioned about Gibney during a deposition for a lawsuit involving another coach’s abuses. Wielgus’s response indicated a lack of familiarity with Gibney’s case. It is worth noting that Wielgus faced accusations of providing false or misleading testimony in other abuse cases and was later forced to rescind his induction into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
The article also mentions that Gibney’s immigration records were subject to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case, and a federal judge stated in 2016 that the U.S. would not grant a visa to someone charged with offenses like Gibney’s. However, Gibney’s green card was not revoked for false statements on his failed 2010 U.S. citizenship application, as he had not been convicted of any crimes.
The FBI has investigated Gibney’s travel to Peru on a children’s medical mission, and he may still be under investigation by the Justice Department’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section for potential human trafficking finance violations.