For over 25 years, George Gibney was known as the most successful Olympic swim coach in Ireland. However, over the past couple of decades Gibney has been brought under scrutiny after several of his former swimmers alleged that he had been sexually abusing them for years.
More and more swimmers have made allegations against Gibney the last couple of years that date back over five decades.
Despite these allegations, in the 1990s the Supreme Court of Ireland ruled that Gibney could not be tried, due to the amount of time that had passed since the allegations had been made. Gibney also managed to escape to the United States before he could be tracked down by the Irish government, leaving many people in Ireland convinced that he had vanished. However, his whereabouts were located by Johnny Watterson, an Irish journalist, who helped to alert the US of Gibney’s presence there.
Now, the hunt for Gibney has gained momentum. The recent release of BBC’s podcast, titled “Where is George Gibney?,” shares the stories of his victims, in the hope that justice will be served.
As the podcast points out in the first episode, the Gibney case is considered to be one of the largest sexual abuse scandals in sports history, along with the Larry Nassar case in USA gymnastics and the Barry Bernell case in UK football.
Each episode begins with recordings of Mark Horgan and Ciarán “Cass” Cassidy–the producers of the podcast–actively searching for Gibney. The episodes include interviews with different people who knew Gibney, both swimmers and coaches.
The first episode details the relationship between Gibney and Irish Olympian Gary O’Toole, who was considered to be Ireland’s greatest hope for an Olympic gold medal in swimming.
It also includes an interview with Francis “Chalkie” White, a former swimmer, who worked as Gibney’s assistant at the height of Gibney’s career and who alleged that he had been abused by Gibney for years.
In the second episode, the producers follow O’Toole, who is determined to find Gibney’s other victims and give them the chance to share their stories. One of the swimmers highlighted is Tric Kearney, who was a strong contender for the Irish Olympic team in 1984.
In the third episode, Horgan and Cass interview two of Gibney’s assistant coaches who had very different views on Gibney. One of them, John Mullins, believed Gibney was innocent, while the other, Carol Walsh, believed Gibney was guilty.
So far, 7 episodes of the podcast have been released.
Due to the sensitivity of this topic, the podcast encourages any listeners who may have experienced sexual abuse of any kind to seek help, if needed, from local resources. For swimmers in the UK, the podcast cites the BBC Action Line, where information about the Gibney case can be shared and where survivors of sexual abuse can find resources.
The podcast can be found on the BBC website or on Spotify.