Saturday, August 23, 2008

A former U.S. diplomat who admitted taping his sexual encounters with teenage girls while stationed in Brazil and the Congo was sentenced Friday in an Alexandria court to 20 years, the maximum possible prison term.

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,” Judge 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.

Nachman pleaded guilty earlier this year to possessing child pornography after admitting he videotaped his sexual encounters while working as a consular officer. He also pleaded guilty to misuse of a diplomatic passport.

The case also included allegations that he pressured attractive female Brazilian visa applicants for sex, though he was not charged with that.

Nachman, a naturalized U.S. citizen who came to the U.S. from Costa Rica when he was 17, admitted that he recorded his sexual encounters with a 17-year-old girl in 2004 and a 14-year-old girl in 2005 while stationed in Kinshasa. One of the tapes was labeled “Congo 2004 Sexual Adventures.”

He also admitted recording his sex acts with a 16-year-old Brazilian girl while stationed in Rio de Janeiro in 2006.

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 the Democratic Republic of the 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.

Nachman’s sister, Patricia Gutierrez, testified that their grandfather was 61 and their grandmother 16 when they married.

Nachman apologized to his victims and the U.S. Foreign Service and wept after hearing the sentence.

His apology stood in contrast to letters he wrote to the Foreign Service director seeking intervention on his behalf.

Nachman said he was unfairly targeted because he had been active in the nudist community and threatened to take the story about the “injustice” of his case to the international press.

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