An ex-diplomat 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 G. Nachman, 42, pleaded guilty in April to possessing child pornography after admitting that he had sex with 14- to 17-year-old girls while serving as a consular officer in Brazil and Congo and documenting the encounters in pictures and videos.
The judge has agreed to delay Nachman's sentencing until Aug. 22 so that he can be examined by noted forensic psychologist Stanton Samenow. Defense attorney Stephen Stine said in court papers that a psychological examination might show that cultural differences led Nachman to believe that sexual contact with teenage girls was acceptable, and that should have an impact on what kind of sentence he receives.
Prosecutors rejected the notion that Nachman's victims somehow deserve less protection because they were not born or raised in America.
"Children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Brazil have the same inherent value as children in the United States," prosecutor Ron Walutes wrote in court papers.
Prosecutors are asking for a 20-year prison term, the maximum he could receive under the law and much higher than the term of nine to 11 years called for under federal sentencing guidelines.
In a letter Nachman wrote from jail to the director of the Foreign Service pleading with him to intervene and get the charges dropped, Nachman explained the cultural differences as he sees them.
"In the Congo, women develop quickly, both physically and emotionally, due to the substantial responsibility society places on them from early childhood," Nachman wrote. "In Kinshasa, the vast majority of teenagers are sexually active with men that are substantially older. ... Their main concern is marrying young girls to men with financial stability, a concern dating thousands of years and cutting across cultural lines."
The case has been unusual on several fronts. It includes allegations that Nachman pressured attractive female visa applicants in Brazil for sex. Nachman admitted that he had sex with two women whom he met in the visa application process, but he denied coercing them and he was never charged in the matter.
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.
Nachman's prominence in the nudist community was such that, even though his activism was more than a decade ago, some nudists feel compelled to distance themselves from him.
In an upcoming issue of N Magazine, a publication of the Naturist Society, an editorial takes a strong stance against Nachman's conduct.
"The severity of what he did is unambiguous. Although his criminal actions were in no way connected with naturism, for many readers of the international news accounts, there will be guilt by association," the society wrote.
Perhaps the strangest twist in the case was Nachman's request that the judge who will sentence him conduct a marriage ceremony for him and his 21-year-old Brazilian fiancee. He wanted to be married before sentencing since he doubted that he would be able to marry once transferred to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons.
U.S. District Court Judge Gerald Bruce Lee rejected the request.
"There is a time and a place for everything. The Court finds that sentencing is neither the time nor the place" for a wedding, Lee wrote.