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Former UN Official Jailed 15 Years For Drugging, Raping Women

By Azeezat Okunlola | Nov 1, 2022

On Friday, a former United Nations officer, Karim Elkorany, was given a 15-year sentence for drugging and sexually assaulting unconscious women for two decades while on humanitarian missions to the Middle East.

During business visits to Iraq and Egypt, as well as at home in the United States, Elkorany, then 38 years old, sexually abused at least 20 women, most of them close friends.

Nine women, including journalists, Fulbright scholars, and United Nations officials brutalised by Elkorany, came out at his sentence in Manhattan Federal Court.

They spoke of being tormented by Elkorany's habitual abuse was widely known, but they had no idea of the specifics of the assaults or the medicines he used to knock them out.

In November of 2016, while on assignment in Kurdistan, Elkorany sexually assaulted a reporter, who has been referred to as "Victim one". She was 31 years old and was married.

She compared the resulting trauma to the ravages of cancer.

As she recalled the events of that night, she felt as though she were looking back at "snapshots suspended in darkness."

“Elkorany parks the vehicle in the garage of an apartment building, a place I never agreed to visit,” the victim stated. “The next memories I had was 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.’’

Mr Elkorany admitted in May that he had sexually assaulted a woman and lied to the FBI.

For those severe offences, the federal judge in Manhattan, Naomi Reice Buchwald, handed out the maximum punishment permitted by law. The judge said that if the assaults had happened in New Jersey or Washington, DC, he would 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,’’ Ms 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.’’

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Pomerantz, Mr Elkorany took photos of his unconscious victims and infected some of them with STDs since he didn't use condoms.

Federal prosecutor Damian Williams called Mr Elkorany's actions "monstrous" and thanked the victims for coming forward. This individual from West Orange, New Jersey, has been involved in foreign relations, aid, and development since 2005.

From 2013 to 2016, he worked as a communications consultant for UNICEF in Iraq.

UNICEF's spokesman, Stéphane Dujarric, said the organisation respected the women who spoke up and was working to strengthen its approach to avoiding abuse.

Mr Elkorany expressed regret in court for his actions.

“I realise that words of apology will only ring hollow here today and that words of apology cannot undo the damage that I have so clearly caused,’’ he said. “And yet I am deeply, deeply sorry.’’