Friday, July 11, 2008

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

The Skeptical Bureaucrat has been following the case of Gons Nachman for some time now. Nachman, you might have heard, is a former Foreign Service Officer who has been charged with a variety of crimes, including having sex with underage girls during his postings to Brazil and the Congo, as well as with pressuring visa applicants to have sex with him.

I have avoided covering this issue, mainly, in all honestly, because I am embarrassed that this man was in the FS. But his latest, which TSB covers very well below, is just beyond belief. To suggest that we, as diplomats, should be allowed to take advantage of children while overseas because of some perceived cultural difference (girls there age faster, he argues, so it isn't like having sex with children) is just offensive, and, for our service as diplomats, beyond the point. We can't smoke pot in Amsterdam either.

"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."

You can read all of TSB's post and the subsequent comments here.


Unknown said...

Just curious, as long as Nachman is appealing to foreign cultural mores and influences -- where was Gons Nachman born?

Digger said...

In the U.S. as far as I know.

Consul-At-Arms said...

I've quoted you and linked to you here:

Anonymous said...

Nachman is a dual national who still holds a Costa Rican passport. I think he was born there, but not sure.

Anonymous said...