Former UN official convicted of rape, drug abuse, bags 15 years term
A Manhattan Federal Court in the United States of America on Thursday, convicted and sentenced former United Nations official, Karim Elkorany, who drugged and raped unconscious women over two decades during humanitarian missions in the Middle East to 15 years in prison.
Elkorany, 38, sexually assaulted at least 13 of 20 women he drugged — many of them close friends — during work trips to Iraq, Egypt, and while home in the United States, New York Daily News reports.
Before the sentence was imposed, nine women who were assaulted by Elkorany told the court –in person or over the phone — how the attacks had upended their lives and left them shattered.
Journalists, Fulbright scholars, and UN employees Elkorany brutalised were among nine women who spoke at his Manhattan Federal Court sentencing.
They described being haunted by not knowing details of their assaults or what drugs Elkorany used to knock them out, while noting his habitual abuse was an open secret.
A reporter, identified as Victim 1, said she was 31 years old and happily married when Elkorany raped her while on assignment in Kurdistan in November 2016. She described the life-shattering trauma that followed as being like cancer.
She described her memories of that night as “snapshots suspended in darkness.”
“For the first, I’m in the passenger seat of Elkorany’s UN-marked vehicle. My body is comatose. My head is flopped against the headrest, my arms limp at my sides,” she recalled.
“In the second memory fragment, Elkorany parks the vehicle in the garage of an apartment building — a place I never agreed to visit. The next memories I have are of being sexually assaulted. In the most excruciating one, I am being raped. I feel pain. I want to say no, but I can’t speak. I can’t move. I’m unable to escape.”
Another victim, who met Elkorany in Egypt around 2010, turned and directly addressed her attacker in the courtroom.
“Your story ends here today, Karim. You are and forever will be known as a predator and a rapist,” she said, reading from prepared remarks. “The women you victimized are some of the most talented and strongest women I know.”
The woman told Elkorany that the hardest part of the abuse was her memory being stolen from her through the drugs he used to incapacitate her.
“There’s still so much I don’t know. Which drugs did you use? And how much? I have scattered memories and flashbacks of your penetrating me, of your standing awkwardly at the side of your bed leering over me. Did you take pictures? Did you think about doing it again?” she said.
Elkorany had pleaded guilty in May to sexual assault charges and lying to the FBI.
Imposing the stiffest sentence she could for those charges under the terms of the plea, Justice Naomi Reice Buchwald, noted that had he been convicted in New Jersey or Washington D.C., where some of the assaults occurred, he could have gotten life in prison.
“The drugging of victims was totally reckless. Mr. Elkorany made no effort to learn whether the drugs he used on his victims would cause permanent harm,” Buchwald said. “I doubt that he did an analysis of the quantity versus the weight of the victim, and we know from all the letters how clearly they got more of these drugs than was necessary for his purpose, given how out of it they were for a very long period of time.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Pomerantz told the judge that Elkorany photographed his unconscious victims and infected some with sexually transmitted diseases because he didn’t wear condoms.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams described Elkorany’s crimes as “monstrous” and expressed gratitude to the women who came forward.
“We express deep gratitude to all of the victims for their bravery in coming forward and remain committed to doing all we can to bring perpetrators like Elkorany to justice,” he said.
The West Orange, N.J., man began working in international aid, development, and foreign relations in 2005. He was with UNICEF in Iraq from 2013 to 2016 before his promotion to communications specialist.
A spokesman for the organization, Stéphane Dujarric, said it saluted the women who came forward and was trying to improve its approach to preventing abuse.
The UN said in a statement: “We salute the courage of the women that came forward to initiate the investigations. We hope that this sentence brings to all his victims a sense that justice has been achieved.”
In a brief statement at the hearing, Elkorany apologized to his victims and said he’d work to better himself in prison.
“My actions will follow me for the rest of my life as they should. The rest of my life will itself be filled with regret and remorse,” he said.