Editor's Note: This transcript was automatically transcribed, so mistakes are inevitable. You can contribute by proofreading the transcript or highlighting the mistakes. Sign up to be amongst the first contributors.
BBC sounds, music, radio, podcasts, this podcast refers to child sexual abuse and contains interviews that some listeners may find upsetting, as well as some occasional strong language. Episode one, it happened in the summer.
How far those sands away from here are from here where you can hear the police helicopters and then you can hear the police sirens quite a bit around here at this time, I'm outside the house of a man who vanished 25 years ago. At least I think I am. We haven't got a lot. But to me, this looks like a nice neighborhood. It's six a.m. It's dark and it's completely still. It's hard to. It's hard, though, isn't it?
You have to see in the day, in the daylight, we're about 100 meters away from where we think a man who I've been investigating for over two years now lives. But we're not sure if there's any indicators that he could know that we're outside. His neighbors now know him as John, but that's not his real name. We've been here now for over two hours, we're jumping here's another. This is the same car, but this is this really slow woman in the US, is it?
And so far, no sign of life from the house. Here we go.
Oh, my God. Then suddenly. The garage door rises. I can see a kitchen door opening. We need to see if there's one or two people in that car. One to two, I'm going to follow. Yeah, OK, we're ready. We're looking for a face that I've seen on TV chat shows that I've seen in sports studios and dozens of newspaper clippings from the 80s, in the 90s when his name was brought up in Ireland. Today is a question that always follows.
It's where is he now? OK, if he if he's going through the lights, I'm going to turn the lights. You know, at this point, still impossible for us to tell if either of the men in the car are hit. And for more than 90 minutes, we follow them from junction to junction on and off highways, always trying to stay two cars back. He's gone to the Reds, come on. OK, come on, let's go, let's go, let's go.
Let's go. Let's go. Let's go. Come on. OK, see him there? Yeah, yeah, you got himself. Eventually, they pull off the road and into the car park of a shopping cart. They go into the shop. It's his car there. Yeah. The car we've been following is now parked, but it's empty cars there. But through the front windscreen, I can see something that rings a bell from some old photos, rosary beads hanging in the rearview mirror.
My phone. The two men who gone into the store, so I followed. As they walked in, the men I've been following were right there in front of me. I looked at their faces and they walked straight past me. They were oblivious. That's 100 percent George Clooney. Yeah, that's absolutely him. The second captain we're talking to today at the core of The New York Times and a couple of minutes about what's being dubbed the largest sexual abuse scandal in sporting history.
My name is Mark Horgan and I'm a producer with the sports podcast in Ireland called Second Captains, actually. So back in twenty eighteen, we were reporting on two major worldwide stories of abuse of children in sport. I think you would have heard about them both today.
We broke the silence and we took back our voice.
In the UK, Barry Bernell was sentenced to 30 years for sexually abusing young footballers over many decades. Footballers like McFarlan here.
We are no longer afraid of you back. But now you are nothing to us at all.
And in the United States, USA gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years for the sexual abuse of young athletes like Aly Raisman.
Larry, you do realize now that we, this group of women you so heartlessly abused over such a long period of time are now a force and you are nothing.
As Ali and Mickey face down their abusers, I was reminded of a case closer to home, a case where the perpetrator had actually coached one of our own presenters, Kennerley. He was a strange kind of guy. He was one of these quite calm seeming people.
You know, did he exude this kind of power or authority that.
Well, he did, but but it was a lot of a lot of it is by reputation, you know what I mean? You're sort of telling you I'm powerful.
It's just, you know, this is the guy who has the power. Well, you already know, like, this is George Gibney. He's the top coach. You know, he coaches the national team and he's he's the top man.
It was a case that we'd forgotten about. Just imagine an international scandal like Nasser Bernell, where the accused never even stood trial, where the judicial system failed. The survivors and the well-connected celebrity coach just disappeared. For us to understand the case of George Gibney on the path he took, we have to go right back to the beginning. He ready, hmm. Let's get this a play here and this man down here, the scary scenario to yourself. You're putting your thumb here and it OK.
Yeah, perfect. When did you start filming, Gary?
Well, I started training when I was about six. What did you know? I'm nine now. You're old now. Wow. Big competition. You're going to take part think this year.
And I'm sitting on a couch playing Gary or two old videos of himself as a child prodigy. He hasn't seen them since their first broadcast in the 70s. Yeah, it's a it's a bit embarrassing.
He was a phenomenon and the cameras were turned poolside again and again.
Gary O'Toole represents Ireland's greatest hope in swimming him. Tell me how long you've been training here, old grainy pictures of him on the way to training or going to school with his big oversized parka jacket and straight blond hair, and you come here five or six o'clock in the morning. Yes. You don't get sleepy during the day? No. You take my. Oh, that's the schoolyard. That's that's my two younger brothers. Oh, really? Yeah.
Yeah. Must have us going to school. This is your first competition abroad, apart from the British championships. Yes. And how did you feel about that when you were in the race? I don't remember this interview.
I knew that I had such a high level of competition that I had a chance to do good time. So I had to make the most of the competition.
I was now at the age of nine and being looked upon as a potential Olympian would look at Gary until he's not too pleased about that.
And neither is the number eight to fifteen point seventy three outstanding swimming by him.
They were right. Gary O'Toole would go to the Olympics. He'd become the country's greatest ever swimmer. He was that good.
He's tall about what a tremendous home for him and in third place.
Do you mind that? Do you mind having to spend all that time swimming? No, I don't mind at all, because weekends are always free for other stuff that you want to do.
Every time you heard Gary, someone else is never too far away behind him. In every shot, every interview, every soundbite. There was always someone else there. This time, his trainer, George Gibney, watched another exceptional performance. He did exceptionally well. In fact, if you rank him on his 200 meter swim, he now ranks at number one in Britain or Ireland.
That's how I recall him. Certainly the time and effort that he's putting up to now, he's been doing very, very exceptionally well. In fact, it was very much a professional relationship that very much so. And I knew what I wanted out of this. I wanted to go to the Olympic Games.
Thank you. Asghari fulfilled his promise and became a sporting star, his long time coach also became something of a media personality.
Well, if you take a quick glance around our audience tonight, you'll see exactly what the show was. But we do have one of the best swimmers in the world where this is actually the fourth best in the world at the 200 meters breaststroke. He's the second best in Europe and he's the best in Ireland. Would you therefore please welcome Garry O'Toole and his teacher, George Gibney? Thank you very much. So you are, as I said, the fourth best in the world with the 200 metres breaststroke, the second best.
You are the best in Ireland. What I'd love to know is romance in your life at all. Is there any time for us? And there's loads of time to make time for that kind of thing. One of his priorities. Right. Why would you go to bed early?
I. So this is probably late at night or early 90. I'm not sure when it was, but at this stage I was beginning to become a little bit more independent.
He has started with me when he was about nine or 10 years of age and went to good high points and low point in his career and took it out.
But his commitment to the game and to the sport, these great covid cigarette, when you watch this video, it isolated, you know, it just seems like a man who's who's committed to sport. And that's what's so scary about this guy.
How do you read George as a teacher? What are his strong points here? I have real admiration for him, particularly because when I go down training in the morning, I'm not Gary O'Toole to a certain extent. I'm one of the individuals and he doesn't treat anybody, anybody any way differently to anybody else. He's to be admired for for the way he approaches his swimmers and for the way he approaches his job. And he's married with wife and kids, whatever about me getting up and 440 in the morning when you have to leave the wife and go down swimming and all this.
And he's weird. I take a morning off, but if the coach isn't there, the pool isn't open, so he's never allowed to take a morning off. So I think because of that of an awful lot of admiration for him. To George. There was nothing about that man that was real and everything else was just pure and pure act that he thought he was putting on, going down the wrong the greatest illusion that was perpetrated in sport ever.
So that was one final word. That's the man that he is. Everything else is an act every single day. He was living life as an illusion. You're not going to leave your Irish babies. I certainly am. I have got the offers. They've been very attractive. But I really believe that we can do it with Irish swimmers here, can make medals in Barcelona. I want to stay here to make sure that that happens. Well, last.
So this is this is all occurring about a year before the the world championships, so it all came crashing down soon after this show. George.
Tomorrow, we take off for a team of firefighters, we meet up at the United States Olympic swimming team to train with them over the next two weeks, in 1991, pretty much at the height of their celebrity, Gary and George flew to the world championships in Perth, Australia, aiming for even better things. I find that to cope with the pressure fairly well. And it's something that I, I exist on. You know, if I don't have the pressure on me, I won't perform that well at all.
I feel my preparations going very well. Well, Gary, we'll certainly wish you well, George. Last word from you.
I'm expecting great things from the five people who are going great things. How great. I'm quite sure they will excel themselves and are on the way to 92 already.
The flight to Perth takes 20 hours and 25 minutes, lots of time to think. Lots of time to talk. Everything the disappearance, the allegations, the caucuses, the rumors, the scandal through nation, everything began on a plane journey to Australia. So on the flight with me heading to Perth for the world championships was a small Irish team and there was George Geany, who was the head coach, and Chalky White, who was the assistant coach and jockey himself, was a swimmer of renown.
That was very good when he was a young underage swimmer. And it made me think about people that I swam with that had been very good, like Chauke has an underage age group swimmer and just fallen by the wayside.
There was one girl in particular that I used to swim with and I was particularly friendly with and fond of. I was 12. Used to train together all the time, one year when I went to California to train for almost two months and on this occasion did not go with George, give me. And this girl who was at home used to write letters and I'd write letters back to her. She would write, you know, every four days or so and I'd write back.
But then when I came back to Ireland, after all this time, everything had changed and she just didn't speak to me and went out of her way to kind of stay away from me. Which was upsetting to me at the time, you're 12 going on 13 and someone who you thought was your friend is now no longer your friend. And I remember one particular morning and we just happened to find ourselves on the pool deck, just gathering our clothes at the same time, and and there was no one else present and no one else on the pool.
And she paused in front of me. And I just looked at her and. There was a I won't say a moment of silence, but there was about 15 seconds, which felt like a lifetime to, you know, a teenager when she just looked at me and then. We just went our separate ways and nothing was ever said it was strange, and that's stuck in my mind. And on the flight from Singapore to Perth, I couldn't sleep and it was an empty, relatively empty flight at that point and we were well into the flight and then the lights were off.
I was sitting two seats over from chokey and he turned to me and he said, Can I talk to you?
I just kind of went off and said, hey, I'm going to be the assistant coach to the team. Do you know how do you get on with George?
And I said, fine, why you asking? I don't know. I just want to understand. And I said, well, you know, have you ever. Has he ever just done anything to you that you never really liked or anything like that? And he used kind of very vague language. Has he ever been difficult or. Yeah. Have you ever. Has he ever just done anything to you that you never really liked or anything like that?
No, no, no, not really. You know, but what do you get at. And then I think he said, has he ever been abusive? And I said, no, it can be difficult at times, you know, but no, he's never he's never been. And you know what I would call abusive. Well, did he ever do anything to you that, you know, did he ever go any further than just normal coach swimmer relationship?
And I said, no, no. And then I think he said, no, you're not understanding me. Has he ever sexually abused you? I said, no. Why are you asking me that question?
Hey, Chokey, I know I'm right here, I'm at the corner, I'm at the I'm just pulled in around the corner there at the crossroads. Great scene is like, but I'm in Miami, Florida, are choking our lives to hear his story. Chauke, much like Gary, was a child prodigy at age 11, he was the youngest ever competitor to take part of the famous Lévy swim in Dublin. And he won the local boy with a strange name who did the impossible.
His photo was all over the Irish newspapers. This weather ain't bad like Florida. Thank you very much. Nice to see you. How are you doing? OK, fine. Can I get you some lunch and yeah, we can go. I don't take notes, but we don't go. You don't take lunch at all. I never eat lunch. Are you. Will you take me to have coffee or something like that. No, I've never thought why not.
And let's go. Right. OK. OK. Tell me why you don't eat shellfish.
That doesn't make any sense because I since I was a kid, we trained in the morning. We train in the afternoon. Yeah. So you never eat lunch before. You train in the afternoon.
You sit down to work and I don't ever remember ever remember that way ever. George was became just kind of inserting himself into my life. I was really young, I was he saw the potential. He started to take me to different places. I I liked the attention. I mean, I was only ten, nine, 10, 11, 12, 13. But he could probably see that I had something swimming was. So George then really was like his mind.
He ingratiated himself with me and my family to the point where everybody trusted them. I used to go round to his house all the time for weight sessions, different things. Right. It was in like terraced house. I just off the circular road and the room itself was in a dark room. I could always close, obviously, because there was a big, long windows and those old houses. So you could see right then. So I could always close, but I would go in.
There was a, you know, one of these pulldown beds that snaps. So I would go in there and that's where I would do my wait session. I was I was only 11, so I was but I was doing weights. There were only light. And I would do my work and put them down and then he'd say, OK, just relax for a few minutes. He'd go. And it was the same thing all the time. Anyway, he'd come back in and then I would be lying there and almost like a playful fall then on top of you.
And then everything would start from there. And the conversation was always, what would you do if I was a girl?
You know. I remember the first time was like, what do you mean, I'm scared? What would you do? Would you tell me to get off here or would you would you want to do something? What would you do if I was a girl? And then. And then. And then. And then. And then. And that was really the start that started before I was you know, I was in the summer of around when I was 11, but it happened in the summer.
I remember going to the right and, you know, keep going, OK? And it's about where that guy's is coming out of there. George Gibney abuse choky over five years. Then one day without explanation, he disappeared. Choky had no idea where to go. We know now that he moved clubs and coach and Watford in the south, the country. But for choky, one day he just vanished. This is beautiful, isn't it just nice? This is it's immaculate, isn't it, that?
OK, get out. We've just arrived at Pompano Beach, by the way, and it's beautiful. Choky never mentioned what happened to anyone. Years in between, so get married and have kids and live a pretty normal life in 80. I retired from swimming and I started coaching immediately. At that time, he was well established as a coach. The swimmers that I was coaching were against the swimmers that he was coaching. And we began to almost like not necessarily work together, but on a friendly basis talk.
And that was the start of the confusion, if you ask me. Was I confused after an 11 year old? No, I was confused as a 35 year old and 30 year old. It was a secret of my life that I was carrying around. I could see that he was continuing to do what he did to me, to others. It was a complicated time. It was I was embarrassed, I was ashamed, I yeah, I was afraid I would get through.
I was unemployed, but I was I need to make sure that I I survived. I was my my first, and I didn't want anything to happen to anybody else, but I'm not going to take responsibility for it doing something to save other people. That was not my ulterior motive. My ulterior motive was still cost me. Me. Chauke, explain to me in detail what had gone on and and I said. And when he said he did it to me, it was like this.
The clouds parted. No, I don't mind at all, because weekends are always free for other stuff that you want to do and it's like the curtains coming down and you just go, oh, my God.
That's what that was all about. It has to be. I knew that I had such a high level of competition that I had a chance to do good time. So I had to make the most of the competition. Everything it was like the cornerstone in the piece of the jigsaw, everything started to make sense to me, everything and the 30 seconds that that girl had spent on the side of the pool just looking at me, the way the ostracization of female swimmers from male swimmers and the just the act of just encouragement of any kind of, uh, social interaction between boys and girls.
And I paused and he said, what are you going to do about this? I said, I don't know what I'm going to do about this, but I will do something about this. I sat there and looked at them and told them that I believed him. I was say, and I'm going to do something about this. And he said, what are you going to do? And he was kind of worried about what I'm going to do.
I said, I don't know what I'm going to do and I'm going to make sure that people know this guy's behavior.
And I said to him, I said, I think there's more people out there that they're going to find those people. If you've been affected by any of the issues in this series, please contact support organizations in your own country for a list of organizations in the U.K. that can provide support for survivors of sexual abuse. Go to BBC, Dakoda, U.K. forward slash action line. If you were a former swimmer with George Qabbani or have any information, however minor, that you feel could help the producers, please contact us confidentially.
Where is George Gibney, a BBC Dakoda, U.K. that's where is George Gibney all one word at BBC. Dakoda, U.K.. And you can find us on Social at Second Captains. Where is George Gibney is second captain's production for BBC since the series is written and produced by me, Mark Horgan and Kiran Cassidy, it's co-produced with Maria Haugen and editing is also by Caroline Cassidy. Research and fact checking is by Chilian Down. Our composer is Michael Fleming and Sound Mixing is by Jeffrey MacDonald.
Our theme tune is by Aaron Dessner. The executive producer for the BBC is Dylan Huskins, and the commissioning editor is Jason FIPS. You'll be able to listen to episode two of Where Is George Gibney? It's called We've Been Expecting You from next Thursday, 3rd of September. You can subscribe on the free BBC sends up.