Thursday, July 10, 2008

Gons Nachman to the Judge: In My Mind, I'm Only a Little Bit Guilty

Damn! I was so looking forward to seeing Gons Nachman get sentenced tomorrow at the Federal Courthouse in Alexandria. But now he's gotten a last-minute postponement. According to today's AP story:

An ex-diplomat [Gons G. Nachman] convicted of having sex with teenage girls in the Congo and Brazil and taping the encounters is asking a judge for leniency, claiming that cultural differences in those countries make sex with girls more acceptable.

Gons is the former INS Asylum Officer and State Department Vice Consul whose legal troubles I've been following for months (see here, here, here, here, and finally, here).

The judge has agreed to postpone sentencing until August 22, so that a "noted forensic psychologist" can probe Nachman's psyche as part of a defense ploy to show that Nachman became so highly attuned to Congolese cultural norms while serving as a U.S. Embassy political officer in Kinshasa that he came to believe it was only slightly improper to have sex with 14 year-old girls. And, if you buy that premise, then he shouldn't be punished as harshly as if he'd had sex with 14 year-olds in more Puritanical countries. Seriously. That's his story, a cultural subjectivist interpretation of statutory rape laws: 'Your Honor, having adopted the values of my exotic surroundings, I did not regard those particular 14 year-old girls as deserving of the protection afforded them by U.S. law, and I ask that you respect my cultural beliefs.'

But Gons isn't betting everything on this novel legal theory. According to the AP story, he also wrote a jailhouse letter to the Director of the U.S. Foreign Service in an apparent attempt to lay the groundwork for an appeal of his conviction.

Another odd twist is Nachman's prominence in the nudist community: In the 1990s, when attending law school at the University of Pennsylvania, Nachman led several public demonstrations advocating nudity. Nachman now contends that he was targeted for investigation in part because of his well-known affinity for the nudist lifestyle.

In his letter to the Foreign Service director, Nachman says investigators knew of his interest in nudism and illegally searched his apartment with the notion of finding images that, taken out of context, could be used against him.

Nachman says in the letter that he disclosed his activism and lifestyle to the Foreign Service and had no problems receiving a security clearance. State Department spokeswoman Nicole Thompson declined to comment directly on whether an individual's advocacy for public nudity would be a factor in the State Department's hiring process.

Now I'll have to wait another five weeks for the next installment of the Gons Nachman saga.


Anonymous said...

C'est monsieur n'a pas le sens de moralité, on devrait lui condamné pour tout le mal et messonge qu'il fait en utilisant son titre de diplomate. on devrait lui coller meme 20ans de priso, voir même 30. On lui as dit que le Congo offrait le filles aux hommes a cet age de 14ans. il doit surement etre sans pudeur et c'est ausi parce qu'il n'as pas d'enfant ou qu'il ne peut en avoir qu'il doit abusé d'enfant d'autre personne? IL EST MALADE

TSB said...

Anonyme, je vous remercie pour votre commentaire. Je suis d'accord.

My very loose translation of M. Anonyme's comment:

"That gentleman has no sense of morality, he should be condemned for all the evil he's done using his position as a diplomat. He should be imprisoned for 20 or even 30 years. He said that the Congo offered 14 year-old girls to men. He must surely be shameless, and maybe it's because he does not or can not have children he has abused the child of another person? HE IS SICK.

p.s. I seem to have accidently removed a second, Anglophone, comment on this post, which said largely the same thing. My apologies.

Digger said...

I have quoted and commented on your post here:

Anonymous said...

Sou brasileira e gostaria de comentar que não é pratica usual manter relações sexuais com menores de idade aqui no Brasil. Acho que nossos adolescentes iniciam a vida sexual precocemente, porem não costumam manter relações com adultos. Aqui, isto e crime e passivel de punição legal.

Tati Sabadini said...

Hi! I'm a reporter from the newspaper, Correio Braziliense, from Brazil and we are doing a story about the Gons Nachman case. I saw your blog and I would like to have your opinion about it. I read your posts and I'm just looking for a point of view form an american to put on my story. I hope you can help me by answer it today you can send me your thougts abou te case.My e-mail:

Thank you very much!

TSB said...

Tatiana, I've sent you an e-amil with a few comments. Look for a message from "elides4473."

Consul-At-Arms said...

I've quoted you and linked to you here:

Anonymous said...

It's ridiculous to imprison this Man as other Men have had a lot of Sex with these same 14 year olds

Anonymous said...

Ex-US diplomat gets 20 years for child porn
2 hours ago

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — An ex-U.S. diplomat who admitted having sex with teenage girls and taping the encounters while stationed in Brazil and the Congo has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Gons Nachman had sought leniency, claiming cultural differences in those countries made sex with teenage girls more acceptable.

But a judge gave the 42-year-old the maximum sentence and took the unusual step of ordering consecutive 10-year terms for the two counts on which he was convicted.

Nachman pleaded guilty earlier this year to possessing child pornography after admitting he videotaped his sexual encounters while working as a consular officer. The case also included allegations that he pressured Brazilian visa applicants for sex, though he was not charged with that.

Anonymous said...

I was at the sentencing hearing this morning as I had a matter after it. This was the first I have heard of this case but it was compelling nonetheless and it is no surprise that it has been tracked fervently.

Basically, the Judge did not buy any of those arguments as when you boil it down, Mr. Nachman had sex with a 14 year old. End of story

Anonymous said...

I would like to know how he was selected to be a diplomat? If he was interviewed and with some of the background I have seen I think this is an oversight during the hiring process.

Anonymous said...

I worked with Gons for years. State interviewed him at work on a day he wore his African robe following a trip to west Africa processing refugees. As ridiculous as he looked he was hired. Too bad he did not show his photo book of pictures he took, girls he had sex with as an asylum officer. He was always sick, it was always well known, no one cared.

TSB said...


Thanks for your comment. I've heard similar remarks from other former co-workers. How Gons got through a background investigation is a mystery to me, but I hope the scandal he caused will prompt some changes to the State Department hiring process.