Tuesday 18 June 2019

US has files on notorious Irish swim coach Gibney

George Gibney
George Gibney

John Breslin

Authorities in the US have a file of more than 100 pages on former Olympic swim coach George Gibney, who was once charged with multiple counts of sexual assault.

But the US Citizenship and Immigration Services is fighting attempts by a journalist to publicly release information on Gibney's visa application and green-card files.

In response to a freedom of information request, it released just four of a 102-page file on Gibney, who was charged in 1993 with 27 counts of indecent assault and unlawful carnal knowledge against young swimmers.

The charges were dropped after a High Court judicial review found too much time had elapsed between the alleged offences and the charges being brought. Questions also have been asked about how the original investigation and prosecution were handled.

A senior garda is currently reviewing the case.

Details of the file on Gibney emerged after a US-based journalist lodged a freedom of information request, asking for the visa and green-card records.

Irvin Muchnick instead received the four pages, plus 98 that were entirely blank but for a FOI Act exemption notice on each of them.

The pages released include information from a website called AbuseWatch.net and newspaper articles on the allegations against Gibney, suggesting US authorities have been tracking the controversy surrounding the former coach.

Muchnick is now suing the Department of Homeland Security in federal court in an attempt to find out how and why Gibney was able to get a visa, then a green card, to live permanently in the US. He is believed to be living in Florida.

Gibney, the law suit states, is an Irish national "who reportedly sexually abused numerous young aquatic athletes in Ireland and other countries but who was granted permission to enter and reside in the United States".

The four pages provided to Muchnick included a public alert published by AbuseWatch.net, which describes reported allegations and earlier journalistic investigations of Gibney's "long-standing pattern" of sexually abusing young people, the complaint states. The remaining 98 pages were "completely blank", except for a perfunctory notice of the FOIA exemption

Muchnick appealed, but this was denied.

The garda review was announced after Independent TD Maureen O'Sullivan raised the matter in a series of Dail questions. She did not name Gibney, but referred to him as a "notorious swimming coach accused of multiple cases of sex abuse who was granted a visa to live in the United States". The TD believes there was a "litany of mistakes" surrounding the case.

Irish Independent

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