Friday, August 22, 2008

Nachman: "I've had this self-centered streak"

The Associated Press story, as carried in the Washington Post this afternoon, has part of the sentencing statement by U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee, and a bit of pleading by Gons Nachman (read it here).

The key quotes are:

Gons G. Nachman, 42, had sought leniency, claiming among other things that cultural differences in those countries made sex with teenage girls more acceptable. But U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee took the unusual step of imposing consecutive 10-year terms for the two counts on which Nachman was convicted.

"I reject out of hand completely the idea that I should take into account cultural differences," Lee said. He said even if such differences exist, Nachman was answerable to U.S. standards and U.S. law while working as a diplomat on embassy grounds.

His defense lawyers argued that Nachman documented all aspects of his life, and that the sex tapes should be viewed from that perspective. "This gentleman is not a predatory, manipulative, child sex abuser," said defense attorney Lorilee Gates.

A second defense attorney, John Tran, said cultural norms in Brazil and Congo should be taken into account. He noted embassy officials were indifferent when Nachman brought a 17-year-old girl to the embassy as his date. "As repugnant as it may be to us, in some parts of the world no one turns an eye when someone is walking around with someone who looks like his daughter as a date," Tran said.

His attorneys had suggested the six months he has already spent in prison would be sufficient.

[TSB Note: Personally, I'd be willing to reduce Nachman's sentence by a few years if only we could give his lawyers some prison time.]

In court, Nachman apologized to his victims and the U.S. Foreign Service. "I've had this self-centered streak that has caused me to be where I am," he said.

We should not overlook that fact that it wasn't Gons's self-centered streak that put him where he used to be: in positions of trust from which he could easily prey on the vulnerable. Two separate agencies of the U.S. government, the Immigration and Naturalization Service [now the United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services] and the State Department, commissioned him as an Asylum Officer and a Vice Consul, respectively. One can only hope that the appropriate U.S. government officials will re-visit our background investigation and security clearance procedures with the Nachman case in mind, and in that way some good might come of this sad episode.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

One freak off the streets... I hope this could frighten some more.

Anonymous said...

The Asylum branch of the INS, which now part of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCIS), not ICE or CBP.

Anonymous said...

hello. I was visa applicant in Rio to come to US to be with my husband. During interview Gons told me I had beautifl body and Brazilian and African women love sex and did not focus on my visa. He gave me visa. I was surprised of this behavior from American consul diplomat.

TSB said...

Thank you for your comments.

To Anonymous #1,

Yes, he is well and truly off the street, with a 20-year sentence plus 10 more years of supervised release. He shouldn't be a threat to society again until he's in his 60s.

To Anonymous #2,

Thanks for the correction re: the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCIS).

And to Anonymous #3,

I'm sorry for your experience during the visa interview with Nachman. I can tell you that his fellow Vice-Consuls and U.S. Diplomats are utterly appalled at his criminal behavior, and only wish he had been caught sooner.

StateGuy said...

So our Embassy Brazil did the right thing and got rid of this disgrace but my question is: has anyone in Embassy Kinshasa, DRC been held accountable for not nipping this at the bud? Did embassy management have knowledge of his messing with minors? I know its a fishbowl in small African posts so I wont believe for a second no one in that embassy knew. Where's the accountability there?

Our management in Embassy Brazil showed some spine.

Will this case be publicized within the State Department on conduct and expectations of diplomats and State employees. Oh then again, that would require a spine!!!!

TSB said...

Stateguy,

It is indeed hard to believe that no one in Kinshasa was aware of his proclivities, especially if Nachman brought a 17-year old date to an embassy function, as one of his lawyers claimed yesterday.

There was a recent ALDAC about sexual exploitation, which may or may not have been a DOS response to this incident.

What interests me most is why Nachman wasn't screened out during the hiring process. According to an anonymous comment I received, Nachamn was suspected of sexual exploitation as an INS Asylum Officer in Miami before DOS hired him. Evidently, it was his TDY visits to U.S. Embassies in Africa for INS business that made Nachman aware of the possibilities of hitting on visa applicants, and gave him the idea of joining the Foreign Service.

StateGuy said...

TSB,
I read that ALDAC but it was mostly about soliciting for prostitution. I don't see the clear linkage between that and this case which has many facets.

You have a great point about closer background screening before hiring people but bad apples will always slip through. That is when we should expect management and security to address a potential problem employee immediately so the employee does not jump post to post becoming someone else's problem that leads to a 20 year prison sentence.

Or heck, just call me a naive State guy looking forward to his next overseas tour.

Anonymous said...

I get frustrated when media outlets cite the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, when in reality, they have no idea what they are talking about. The sentencing guidelines, when properly applied in the Nachman case, called for a sentence in the range of 23 to 27 years (not 9 to 11 years as so often repeated by the media). However, statutory restrictions (not the guidelines) limited the sentence to 10 years on each count. The judge in this case applied the sentencing guidelines to the letter and did not go beyond what was authorized.

Anonymous said...

I heard from a reliable source that Nachman plead to these charges because the grand jury was going to indict him with more child porn and multitude of other charges. He could have faced 50 years in prison. 20 years versus 50 years, that UPenn law degree paid off.