Prosecutors say Karim Elkorany "engaged in a pattern of similar conduct involving many other women," including sexually assaulting a UN contractor in Iraq. Shown here is the UN headquarters in Baghdad.
CNN  — 

A former United Nations communications specialist in Iraq, whom authorities say drugged 20 victims and sexually assaulted at least 13 of those victims over a nearly two-decade period, was sentenced Thursday in a Manhattan federal court to 15 years in prison.

Karim Elkorany, 39, pleaded guilty on May 24 to sexually assaulting an internationally protected person and making false statements to cover up another sexual assault, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY). As part of a plea agreement, he then admitted to drugging and in some cases sexually assaulting over a dozen additional victims, prosecutors said.

“Karim Elkorany perpetrated monstrous acts against multiple women over nearly two decades,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said. “Elkorany was held accountable by the Court and also by his victims, a number of whom confronted him with powerful statements about the grievous harm he caused through his horrific conduct.”

Elkorany has also been sentenced to three years of supervised release and has been ordered to pay restitution in amounts to be determined, the statement said.

Elkorany is represented by Dawn Marcella Cardi and Chad Lathrop Edgar of Cardi & Edgar LLP, according to court records. Cardi told CNN she had no comment, and referred to the court record.

A ‘pattern’ of sexual assault

The UN opened an investigation into Elkorany after a victim reported being sexually assaulted in 2016 in Iraq, according to the SDNY statement.

Nearly a year later, special agents with the New York FBI field office interviewed Elkorany in November of 2017 outside his New Jersey residence where he denied the allegations, according to the statement.

Prosecutors say investigators found that Elkorany “engaged in a pattern of similar conduct involving many other women,” including sexually assaulting a UN contractor in the United States and Iraq, among other locations, on multiple occasions.

From around 2009 to around 2016, Elkorany sexually assaulted or attempted to sexually assault at least five victims after the women were rendered unconscious from consuming alcoholic drinks he had prepared for them, according to the statement.

The UN placed Elkorany on ‘administrative leave,’ referring him to US authorities

The UN Development Programme received two initial reports regarding Elkorany in late 2016, said Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

According to the SDNY, Elkorany worked for the UN Children’s Fund in Iraq from 2013 to 2016. He then worked as a communications specialist.

Elkorany was placed on administrative leave of absence following an initial investigation and the allegations were referred to the U.S. authorities in early 2017, Dujarric said.

The UN, which does not have prosecutorial authority, relies on the actions of member states to ensure that UN personnel who engage in criminal conduct are held accountable, Dujarric said.

“This particularly egregious case is an example of the cooperation that is needed between member states and the United Nations to ensure criminal accountability,” Dujarric said.

In addition, UN Spokesman Djurrac said: “The United Nations welcomes the efforts of the United States authorities in ensuring that Mr. Karim ElKorany is held to account for his criminal conduct. 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.”