This is the BBC. This podcast is supported by advertising outside the UK. BBC Sound, 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 five Land of Opportunity.
But in fairness, swimathon, tell us what happened with Jerry O'Rourke, his national swimming coach, Frank McCan. Frank McCowen murdered his wife and daughter, Terri O'Rourke, as they say, got 130 years in prison. George Gibney, the national swimming coach, charged. Gibney fled the country after a number of cases against him collapsed on a technicality. Where do we know where a company is now, a gibi somewhere? I think he's doing a tour of America.
He's been in Denver, Colorado, Florida. And how soon is he still with working with children? I would expect so. Incredible.
There's nothing like it in an Irish sport ever. Three national renowned coaches give me a McCann have to run a business as well. I'm going to use to get the swimmers down here to bond. That was no fun whatsoever. An opportunity for me to abuse certain swimmers. And the same with a rock bottom youth uses common sense. Now, people would say there's not a ring, but I have my suspicions about it, that these people knew what they were doing.
Yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep. How are you doing? I'm a journalist from BBC. Oh, and it's about a person that used to live here in the late 90s, early 2000s. You don't have to recognize that idea. I mean, if if it was the previous owner, George Gibney. Yeah, that's right. And do you remember what sort of guy he seemed like?
No, no, no. I really don't know anything about him. Yeah.
Yeah. So you didn't have you didn't have many interactions with him or anything like that. Yeah. Did he do something exciting? George Gibney left Ireland and then Edinburgh in 1994. We don't know if he's ever set foot in Ireland since, huh? Yeah. So was he prosecuted? No, he's never prosecuted, given he's not on the run, but he lives his life as if he is. He moved to America in 1995, and since then he's gone from state to state and city to city.
Yeah. And was he renting it before that, you know? No, he was the owner. He was the owner and he was an owner occupier. But I'm here today at this house in Winterich Co. because it's the first property in the US linked to him. It's the official starting point for George Gibney in America. I think he said, like I thought, I remembered he was moving to Alaska when he left here. I go from door to door and retreats, wondering if anyone remembers George, give me you know, do you recognize this girl?
No, no. George Clooney has gone. I don't want. I didn't know you didn't live here. OK, OK, no problem. Thank you. Sorry to interrupt you. We along with you later. I've been here about 16 years. OK. Right. Yeah. I don't think they, they were at that point in time and they mind if I asked them a really quick question. Could I, could I knock on the door. I don't think I it here right now.
OK, I'm trying to retrace the steps from the mid 90s to the early 2000s, but no one really remembers them.
But I never really knew the people who lived in that corner house. You're talking about the Grey House on the. Yeah, that's the one. The great house. Yeah. No, no. OK, all right. There's some bad guy here looking for work.
Since he moved to the US, it's clear he's been careful to not give away too much about himself. He leaves behind very little trail. But every so often the mask slips.
Hi, how are you? How are you doing? I'm doing good. What do we have here? That's a microphone. I'm a I'm a journalist from Ireland all the way from Ireland. Yeah. Well, are you here for for something? I managed to get a copy of an old resumé of kidneys from around the year 2000. It's like a time capsule from his years in Colorado. It says he's proficient in Windows 98. It's a document where he clearly wants to paint the best possible picture of himself in his own words, what he tells us so much, too much.
Moving on to this church. I've been going here since 83, 83, OK? If you go to Our Lady of Grace, because I used to live on the east side, you know, I would go in and out every Friday. Now more here going every Saturday, three times on Sunday.
The job information is very vague. It seems he's working in accounting, but no mention of being an Olympic coach, no mention of his life in swimming. But as you continue to read through his resume, we can see exactly what he was doing when he left that little grey house at the end of the road each day. His attention has now turned to volunteering, sometimes with religious organizations, sometimes with children's charities. Gibney says he's now the chairman for the International Peru Clinic Foundation.
Yeah, this man that I'm looking for, he was in he went to Peru and it was with an Irish priest from Denver as part of a group. We have the largest Irish. I'm with Father Walsh, been somebody who might have gone to Korea as well. That would be somebody. Would he be the type of priest that would go abroad as well? Well, no.
Our interests, Gibney says that he's a director for the advisory board for a youth detention center in Golden, Colorado, an adviser and a director at a prison for teenagers called Look at Mt..
He's seeing the jobs listed there are shocking. It's almost beyond belief. Because I'm looking for an Irishman who used to volunteer here and whose name is George Keaveney sometimes. So here we are years and years later, trying to retrace his movements and trying to get some answers on his own resume and his own words are acting as my guide. We're looking for this gentleman. Yeah, so this this is a man who's who used to live in the Denver area for about five or six years from the late 90s to the mid 2000s, and much the same as his name was George Keaveney.
Case number one, 1996, one year after Gibney arrived in the United States. Good morning. It's eight o'clock on Friday, the 16th of August.
This is Morning Ireland with David Headley and on your door when George Gibney was living in that little grey house at the end of the road back in Ireland, things were beginning to unravel in Irish swimming.
A 36 year old Dublin publican has begun serving a double life sentence for the murders of his wife and a baby. Yesterday, one of the longest running murder trials ever seen in Ireland ended. Today, Frank McCann begins his double life sentence. The punishment for the murder of his wife, Esther.
Underneath Jessica, they were trying to adopt Frank McCann, an old friend and contemporary of George Gibney and a major name and Irish swimming, was jailed for murdering his wife and stepdaughter.
McCann, who denied the murders, is a former international swimmer and a former president of the Leinster branch of the Irish Amateur Swimming Association.
A teenage swimmer who had coached had given birth to his child. The young swimmer had special needs. McCann set fire to his house, killing his wife, Esther, under 18 month old stepdaughter Jessica to stop the story from getting out. My God.
First came to trial two years ago for this horrific double murder, but a mistrial was declared when he set himself on fire. And Arbor Who prison. So his conviction and the four year ordeal for after McCown's family.
When McCain was the head of the Leinster branch of Irish swimming, he was alerted to the child abuse allegations against George Gibney.
He took no action. It's been a long, long time since George Keaveney was in Colorado and after a lot of phone calls and a lot of door to door inquiries, I eventually find someone who remembers him and remembers him.
Well, how is that, Marilyn? It is well, I am so happy someone's taken the SAT because I've been trying for 19 years to get someone to pay attention.
This is Marilyn Turner. She's the boss of a large recruitment company in Colorado called George was once her employee and they worked side by side.
Did. He was somewhat of a private person, but he was still outgoing and friendly, but not effusive or anything like that, everyone liked him and he was great for not great fun, but he was I mean, there was nothing that made us feel uncomfortable about him. But we knew is that, you know, occasionally we'd all be chatting at lunch or something, and he would mention he had mentioned that he had had a fairly ugly divorce and it all seemed quite normal.
So how did you come to find out about his past? He said something about his daughter was waiting to hear if she made the Irish Olympic swim team. So after a few days, I said, have you heard of your daughter made the team? He said, well, you know, we're estranged because the divorce was very ugly.
So I don't know. I won't know unless someone lets me know. So, you know, I said, well, what the heck, I'll Google.
Gibney Plus Irish swim team and if her name will be there and plus Olympics or something like that.
And the only thing that popped up was George Gibney and all the information about the charges. It was pretty stunning.
It was shocking to me. I was completely shocked. And never would I imagine that that person was sitting 10 feet away from me. It was midday when I did the Google and the very next morning, about a half an hour after office hours started, that's when I called him into the office. I handed him a printed out the the information I found on Google, and it was a pretty thick stack and I said, George, I found this information about you and Google.
And I said, I can't have you here, I'll walk you to the door. He said, No, no, no. He said, I was never convicted. These are all rumors. He said this is this this can happen. And he said, I know people and this can't happen. And I said, well, look, this information is in the public domain. If one of our clients or an employee were to find it, it would reflect very negatively on my company and possibly damage our reputation.
He was very upset. He was very upset. He was and, you know, every time a couple of times he tried to bring up that, you know, it wasn't right that this was he was never convicted. These are only allegations, they said. And I said, George, the decision's been made. You mentioned that he said that he knew people was he referred to did was he referring to his lawyers there?
Well, so when he said, you know, something about, well, you can't you can't do this. I know people. I felt like a threat. It was not an appropriate thing for him to say at the time. When we sat down after he left, and like a couple of the other people said, all right, what the hell's going on? And so we sat down, we had a staff meeting. I said, this is what I found.
And they were all is appalled and startled as we were.
So we had a conversation about it, you know, in a sort of a healing way to move forward and, you know, and one of the fellows who also happened to be Irish, by the way, said he said, you know, he used to brag about, you know, how he was untouchable and a lot of areas because he knew the IRA and he and he had friends with the political movement.
I mean, I had never heard this before, but they were telling me about it. The one fellow that he talked to the most said, you know, he used to brag about the IRA and you know, that he knew people.
Haven't driven this in a while. Where's the stupid? I spent a full day with Marilyn. Oh, there it goes.
She took me to some of the churches in the area where Gibney said he went and he volunteered.
So what what else what other questions do you have? Was his volunteering like the to the Peru Eye Clinic that was brought up at one point? Was his volunteering something that he talked about?
I knew that he was very active in his church, but I didn't ask for one. I mean, I didn't pay attention to it. We knew that he worked at the Lookout Mountain School because he did talk about that, um, you know, with helping the boys up there.
Case number two, 1998, three years after Keaveney arrived in the U.S.. It's the news at 1:00, this is Sean O'Rourke. Good afternoon. The headlines this Friday lunchtime, a former Olympic swimming coach has been sentenced to 12 years in jail after being convicted of sex offences against children when George Gibney was working with Maryland and Colorado.
There was another scandal in Irish swimming.
The former national and Olympic swimming coach Jerry O'Rourke has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for sexually abusing young girls, some as young as 11, under his charge.
Gibney was replaced as Irish national and Olympic coach by a man named Gary O'Rourke. In fact, Gibney had recommended O'Rourke for the job.
One woman told of the guilt she still feels as she remembers her friend as a child, begging her to come with her as Jerry O'Rourke led her to the dressing room to be abused.
And remember when Jeepney was charged and his name was never published in the papers? Well, when one swimmer read reports of a swimming coach being in court on sex abuse charges, she presumed it was her own ex coach. She decided to go to the police, but her own next coach was Gary O'Rourke and not George Gibney.
And what did the judge say in handing down the sentences?
He said it was an inexcusable act, but he actually said some very, very strange things as well, Sean. He said, look, it was a long time ago. Go on now. Live your lives in the hope you recover from the from the FLDS perpetrated on your body. That's what he said to the victims.
O'Rourke's lawyers attempted to use the exact same defense as George Gibney did. So no diaries, too much time had passed, no chance of an alibi, etc. But this time the appeal was rejected.
Well, what a lot has been coming through in the last number of weeks and in the last number of years is that throughout society, children have been saying things to us, but unfortunately they have not been believed. Gibney appeared to be the last coach to escape standing trial. Hey, Evan, you were just 20 for baggage claim, twenty four outside the door, so it's not the American Airlines baggage claim.
OK, so you make after Colorado, there was talk of Alaska, of Utah. George Keaveney surfaced in California and wine country in 2005. He worked at a luxury health resort and spa called the Calistoga Ranch in Napa Valley. Swimming pools, lots of children staying there, but his employers were tipped off about his past.
It's that familiar pattern. Again, appears identity is revealed, disappears. How are you doing? How are you? Good. Nice to see you. Good to see you. The next time Gibney reappears is here in Florida.
So I think he came here just to get lost in the in some suburb somewhere where no one would bother him and for a number of years that he succeeded. This is Evan Daley, Evan Daley is the main figure on the ground in the U.S. who has kept the story of keeping his past alive. He worked for a child protection organization called One Child International. Put his pursuit of Gibney seems like something of a personal mission. The offense is a capital offense here from the point of view that he raped a child.
And I believe that there's a duty to inform Evan's Irish, but he's been based in Florida for many years and it's a state he's not surprised George Clooney relocated to. It's a it's an American joke, you know, they all end up down here, we get all the trash. Florida's known as the place where everybody goes to get away from their trouble. We drive to where George could be used to live in an area called Orange City. It's about an hour's drive from the center of Orlando.
I guess you could call this place and nowhere in Florida, and that's probably why he moved here and he probably bought his apartment quite cheaply from 2006, Gibney lived in a pleasant private housing complex called Enterprise Cove. And by this stage, he told people his name was John Keaveney. Evan tracked him to this address. So this is Enterprise Cove now we're just pulling into, which is previous presidents.
George Kipnis, there's a pool here on the right and that's his house there, right there on the right. The last one on the block. That's his parking spot.
I would pay my investigators to come up first time someone spent the night here, he got up, I think he left the house here because of the six. They followed him and they lost him at a traffic light. He was gone. And then the second time they followed him to work, photographed them and all that sort of stuff. And that's how we found out where he worked. And we immediately provided the employer the letter and they let him go fairly quickly after that.
Evan contacted local police, local churches and local hotels, warning them of Gibbons's past. I know where he is.
I know where he works. I know what he does and what he drives. And that's really all that's needed here.
Just like in Colorado, he attended church and actively volunteered and sometimes with organizations, with connections to children. They said he was very private. He didn't speak to anybody, he didn't interact. He was very unremarkable, nothing that struck out to them.
We know that he attended and volunteered at the Church of the Annunciation in Altamont Springs. And he also became a prominent member of the local chapter of the Knights of Columbus, which is an all male Catholic group. There's a photo of Gibney around that time standing at the altar of a church. He's got a medal around his neck, having just been honored by the Knights.
And he came up purely out of curiosity to see what this guy was like when we knocked on the door and he wouldn't answer. Did he know that he knows you better? Well, if you're in a neighborhood where you don't know many people, how many people knock on your door? So I don't know. I don't know why he didn't answer.
And here at Enterprise Cove, Evans tried to come face to face with me, but was instead approached by a neighbor. And he asked a lot of pertinent questions about what what was going on, and then he took it upon himself to make a flyer, which he posted up in the mailboxes up on the right here. So he put it all over the mailboxes and passed it out to all of his friends and all of the people within this neighborhood who had children.
And as you can see here, everybody who comes in to and from this neighborhood on foot goes right past these front door. So they were particularly concerned. George Gibney eventually sold his house and moved on from Enterprise KOF. It was after locals began a neighborhood watch that started and ended at his doorstep.
I mean, this neighborhood watch, I'm not sure. What are you doing? A neighborhood watch around here walk around. I mean, I don't know. And I'm guessing that it was focused on that house right there.
Case number three, 2010. There's a fourth scandal for Irish swimming as another coach is jailed. We're going now to the sentencing of Jerry Doyle. He's a former national and Olympic swimming coach from County Wexford and he's been jailed for six and a half years for sexual and indecent assaults and five young boys.
This time, it's a man called Jerry Doyle, another contemporary of forgiveness. He was Ireland's coach at the 2004 Olympic Games.
This man, George, was known to be very close to Jerry O'Rourke.
And there would have been a very close relationship between the two swimming club, another former national head coach, another child sex offender.
We have had stereo. Frank McCann was convicted of double murder. We had George Gibney, who got off on a technicality and sexually abusing boys and girls, swimmers back in Ireland.
People again ask about George Gibney, the one that got away. Where is he now? He didn't give any.
Never George, given he never went to prison. OK, let me go. Gary, give me. Never George never went to prison.
No. We know where he is now, Gary.
It's kind of living, living a life of exile.
Over this period in Florida, we learned that Gibney focused mainly on working in hotels, first at the Marriott in Lake Mary. He was forced out of that job after Evandale revealed, given his past to his employers, I drove for over an hour to find the other hotel we heard Gibney worked in. The Wyndham Hotel in Cyprus Palms is in the off Broadway collection of budget hotels and motels that feeds Disney World primarily and all the other local resorts. I wanted to speak to somebody who worked with somebody who could tell us more about the beauty of this time.
And eventually I get to meet Jennifer Palmieri, I am Jennifer. I don't know, there's little things about people, sometimes they just get a vibe. I think it's because of that I see the little red flags of people. You know, in this case, I thought that maybe it was just my mind playing tricks on me. The first impression was everything I got. I don't know, I got a bad feeling about him in the beginning. Like, I thought he was a little.
I just thought he was a little too touchy feely. If I would be sitting down, he'd be like leaning up against me, you know, up against my back with his hands on my shoulders, sometimes leaning his head on my head and stuff.
It was mainly with the younger ones. It wasn't with the older ones that he did that because I worked with a couple of girls that were younger, like, I'm not going to name her name. But anyway, she was she worked for the front desk and he was kind of like that with her, too. I've never worked with anybody like that's that touchy feely. I mean, besides the touchy feely. I don't know. There was just something.
About him, that, to me seemed weird. Although Jennifer had some initial fears, everyone seemed to get on with Gibney, he was friendly, so she decided to give him a chance.
Everybody else at the job seemed to seem to like him. He seemed to fit in. He was very nice and stuff. I mean, to me, he just seemed like he was I mean, other than that first impression that I got afterwards, he seemed to just be a happy go lucky, nice old guy, you know.
I remember, you know, I was a single mom, I was living by myself and I was kind of hard to make ends meet, you know what I mean? I was getting paid nine something an hour or so. And I remember my son had broken one of the ceiling fans from my apartment. And I was a little stressed that I was telling one of the girls about it. And he overheard me. And, you know, he was like, oh, don't worry about it.
And then the next day he showed up and he had like a ceiling fan to be able to replace the one that my son broke. Like I said, I was really struggling at that time. And I remember one time he came in and he brought some money in for me. I honestly didn't want to take it because I'm just that type of person, you know, I'm like, no, I don't want that. I don't want that. You know, I'll be fine.
I'll make do with what I have or whatever. And he insisted that I take the money. So tell me the first time that you became aware of George.
He had told me personally because I had gone to the resort and he said, yeah, that he was planning this vacation, that he was going to Puerto Rico for a few days and he was planning on having fun and all this and that.
You know, we spoke a little bit about it and then the time came, you know, my friend told me, hey, you know, John never came back. He was supposed to come back yesterday or the day before or something. And I was like, Really? And she's like, yeah, they haven't been able to get a hold of him.
You know, we've been calling and calling and he doesn't answer his cell phone. You know, it's like he just disappeared.
And then then that's when she told me, hey, you know, you should Google his name. But she didn't really want to tell me what it was. I think she just wanted me to have the shocker when I saw it for myself. But she's like, hey, Google this. She told me George instead of John. And I'm like, Why? And she's like, just Google it. I'm not going to tell you, just Google it.
And when I did that, it popped up. I was shocked. I mean, I was really I mean, shocked at the allegations, all the allegations, you know, especially.
But I think I was also kind of like, yeah, you know, I knew it, I knew it. I don't know, it's it was a weird feeling, especially being the victim of a child predator myself. Yeah, I didn't know anything about this part of Jennifer's story and perhaps the reason why she saw something nobody else did. Jennifer had been sexually abused by her stepfather in quite a high profile case. He was a police officer for 20 something years.
He was already in his late 20s when he got together with my mother. So I highly doubt that I was the first one that he did that to.
But it wasn't only me and I know I'm probably not the first one because he used to take pictures of me, he used to actually dress me up, put makeup on me and do my hair or, you know, well, you know, this is the 1980s. So the poofy hair was the thing, you know, so do my hair all puffy and stuff and make me look like a grown woman. And he used to make me put little bathing suits on and stuff and bring stuff for me to wear.
And he used to take pictures of me in provocative poses. And all these years, I had to act like nothing had been wrong, like nothing, you know, it didn't bother me when I saw that he, you know, he was living a great life, an awesome life while I while I struggled, you know, it's not really fair.
So Gibney story resonated so much with her years on, but unlike the survivors back home in Ireland, Jennifer actually got justice. Nineteen years later, so it was a pretty disturbing case, she had deleted everything from his computer, but people don't realize that this stuff isn't actually deleted, but the information is still in there. You know, the forensics were able to get all the information out. He had child pornography. He had videos of the victims of him having intercourse with the victims.
OK, I mean, it was disturbing.
The judge said it was the most disturbing case he had ever worked on in his life.
I guess I felt good because he wasn't going to be able to have the wonderful life that he was living. I do feel happy in that in that sense that, you know, he's where he needs to be is paying for what he did. Can you understand, then, those same connections that this has with the Irish victims back home and that this guy hasn't been convicted, so this can be a feeling that they're yet to be believed.
They've yet to have their day in court.
And then combined with us, you know, over in sunny Florida and, you know, beautiful area, he's living the good life while they're over there suffering.
You know, they're over there like nobody believes me. Nothing is being done about this. It's like they just kind of wash their hands with it. You know, that's probably how they feel right now. Just because it happened years ago doesn't mean it didn't happen. Just because it happened years ago doesn't mean it didn't happen. That's been the story of George Gibney.
The spate of convictions of people in Irishwoman continued another swimming coach and colleague of George Gibbons's, The Priest, Father Ronald Bennett, was also jailed over this period for indecent assault of children.
Well, I think that after they're given the case, they never did anything. Then we had a double murderer who was in charge was president of the IOC Leinster branch. They did nothing about it. The people, the people that people basically.
And after each conviction in Ireland, the name George Gibney would occasionally come up.
Just one question in regard to George Gibney, who was mentioned there, is he still a life member of the IAEA? George, given his life membership will be it was discussed at the last AGM and will be revoked at the next AGM in April.
You haven't exactly been in a big hurry to do that, have you?
This device was successfully used by the notorious rapist, the child rapist George Gibney, who escaped prosecution and is now living abroad.
How could he be the only one not to face justice? How was he untouchable? How did he get away?
Why American authorities allowed George Qabbani into the United States and why Irish authorities and Irish figures facilitated that. Today, in 2020, a quarter of a century since he arrived in the United States, we tracked Gibney to Altamont Springs in Florida. That's one hundred percent, George, give me. That's absolutely him because he was looking at his mobile phone. Florida is the state where Gibney first picked up his U.S. visa. It's the state where he often came as the Olympic coach of Ireland for training camps, and it's also a state where another young swimmer says he ruined her life.
It turns out not all the crimes alleged against George Gibney took place in Ireland. 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 UK and you can find us on Social at Second Captains. Where is George Gibney is a second captain's production for BBC Sense. The series is written and produced by me, Mark Horgan and Kiran Cassidy. It's co-produced with Maria Horgan and editing is also by Caroline Cassidy. Research and fact checking is by Kelly and Dan are composers 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 can hear episode six of Where Is George Gibney? It's called Sunshine State. Next Thursday, October the 1st. Subscribe now on the free BBC sounds at. BBC sounds in twenty seventeen, a huge news story brought me back to my hometown of Huddersfield and has been shot dead by police. I want to know why you were.
I'm moving this off. I'm why I'm covered with gang violence, money laundering and drugs. There's been another incident.
Sounds like something out of The Godfather hometown.
Listen on the BBC sounds up.