Alumnus charged in sexual assaults turned himself in

York graduate Daniel Katsnelson, 25, turned himself in to Toronto police on Wednesday night and now faces 11 charges in connection with a sexual assault rampage at a York University residence this month, wrote The Globe and Mail Sept. 21. "He knew we were looking for him," Detective Kim Hancock said.

The series of sexual assaults took place at Vanier Residence at York University in the early morning on Sept. 7 after the campus’s pub night. Two men allegedly sexually assaulted two women, attempted an assault on another and broke into three other rooms before they took off.

Katsnelson had been in contact with legal counsel before turning himself in, wrote the Globe. "On the advice of counsel, he’s been told not to say anything," Hancock said.

At the University, the mood is one of mixed relief. "This is a significant step forward, and we look to the police to continue the investigation," said Alex Bilyk, York’s director of media relations. "But keep in mind, we’re still looking for another person."

Katsnelson appeared at the Ontario Court of Justice in North York Sept. 20 and will remain in custody until his bail hearing, scheduled for Sept. 24.

  • A man arrested in connection with two dorm room rapes at York University tried to launch an after-school sports program for kids three years ago, wrote the Toronto Star Sept. 21.

    "He was really into helping kids," Kirill Kripak said of Daniel Katsnelson, a 25-year-old Thornhill man who surrendered to police Wednesday. "He was a good guy."

    Katsnelson became aware on Wednesday that police were looking for him in the attacks, his lawyer, Peter Dotsikas, said. Dotsikas accompanied his client, who works in the insurance business, to the 31 Division police station in the city’s northwest end where Katsnelson surrendered. "He intends to plead not guilty and fight these charges," Dotsikas said.

    Kripak, a film enthusiast, said Katsnelson recruited him to work on a commercial for Sports Vibe, a program he wanted to launch with the York Region school board’s initiative, Character Matters, to teach children positive character traits.

    It’s unknown whether Katsnelson’s after-school program ever got off the ground, said the Star, but his effort was followed by a brief acting stint in which he starred in a movie made by Kripak for a school project.

    At York, some women continue to walk in groups and take the extra precaution of locking their dorm rooms, said Gilary Massa, vice-president equity for the York Federation of Students. "It’s definitely a sigh of relief to hear that they have this kind of lead," Massa said of the arrest. "The sentiment is there. People are concerned about this. They recognize this as a space where they live and work, and want to see really concrete changes to their safety and security as students."

    Detective Christine Long of the Sex Crimes Unit said police hope the second suspect will also turn himself in to police as soon as possible. "It’s only a matter of time. It’s not like we won’t know who he is."

  • Police are not releasing any information on the suspect they say is still at large, saying detectives are still investigating the case, wrote the National Post Sept. 21. But Detective Christine Long, of the Toronto police sex crimes unit, said she hopes to make a second arrest soon. "We’re hoping the second suspect will also turn himself into police as soon as possible. It’s only a matter of time. It’s not like we won’t know who he is, it’s just a matter of when we’re going to positively ID him," Long told reporters outside court.

    Police described the second suspect as white, approximately six feet tall, slim build, early twenties, with short light-coloured hair and wearing blue jeans and are looking for anyone who saw Katsnelson with the "taller male."

    One source familiar with the investigation told the National Post that police were able to hone in on Katsnelson after poring through hundreds of hours of footage from closed-circuit security cameras that cover the York University campus. "They identified him from one of the tapes and got a lead on his partner," said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    York handed police nearly a week’s worth of video from the 300 cameras that cover the campus, although there were no cameras covering the entrance to Vanier Residence, where the assaults occurred.

    Alex Bilyk, a spokesman for York University, said the entire campus was relieved to hear of the arrest. "This was obviously very traumatic for the victims, but also very alarming for the entire York community," he said. "Times have changed at universities: we all have to be vigilant."

  • A York University spokesperson has confirmed that Katsnelson graduated from the university in 2006, wrote CanWest News Service. “It’s a good day because police are making headway, but we have to remember he’s innocent until proven guilty,” said Alex Bilyk, York’s director of media relations.

  • Alex Bilyk, York’s director of media relations, and Precious Yutangco, news editor for Excalibur, spoke about the arrest on CBC Radio’s “Here and Now”, Sept. 20. Bilyk and several students, identified only by their first names, also spoke with various other broadcast media about the arrest.

The shimmer in the Brazilian Ball

The belle of the ball is no more, wrote the Toronto Star Sept. 21. Anna Maria de Souza, founder of the Brazilian Carnival Ball in Toronto, died Sept. 18 after a nine-month battle with cancer.

De Souza’s unassuming private life was eclipsed by her glamorous public persona as host of one of the hottest events during Toronto’s coldest months.

She arrived in Toronto from the town of Sao Sebastiao do Paraiso, in Brazil, on a frigid February day in 1965 to set up shop for her family’s coffee company.

A year later, she founded the Brazilian Carnival Ball in the basement of a Portuguese church. In its 42-year history, the ball has raised more than $46 million for numerous worthy causes in Toronto and Brazil. Beneficiaries in the city have included York University, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and the Canadian Opera Company.

Judicial council admonishes swearing judge

The Canadian Judicial Council delivered a public scolding yesterday to a potty-mouthed BC judge who used the f-word during a heated exchange in his courtroom last spring, wrote The Globe and Mail Sept. 21. Alan Young, a professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, said the resolution of the complaint is in keeping with past decisions by the council. "For the most part, the Judicial Council is not going to send out a really strong message with really strong sanctions," Young said. "With this particular judge, it was really more a matter of something that was out of character and inappropriate. It wasn’t something that goes to his integrity and competence."

Former Osgoode prof, now judge, knows his energy law

In what could be a landmark decision, Ontario Superior Court Judge David M. Brown has ruled against a private electricity distributor that played fast-and-loose with a Mississauga man by renewing an old contract that he thought had long expired, and then charging a rate per kilowatt-hour that was well beyond the provincially regulated maximum, wrote The Toronto Sun Sept. 21.

If Tom Winiker had been you, or me, or perhaps the owner of a single-family residence, he might not have noticed the bump in his hydro bill because it would have amounted to no more than $15 to $20 above the norm, and therefore not something that would jump off the page.

Luckily for Winiker, and not so lucky perhaps for OES, Judge Brown taught energy law at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School before being appointed to the bench in September of last year and, while a partner at Toronto’s Stikeman Elliott LLP, he was listed as an expert in electrical energy and its legal circuitry.

Lawyer gets mandate to work on securities ‘mess’

High-powered Bay Street lawyer Ed Waitzer, who once ran the Ontario Securities Commission, will become the first chair of a newly-minted university corporate governance studies initiative, wrote The Bottom Line, an independent online biweekly for accountants, in its mid-September 2007 issue.

But critics contend that it’s all academic window dressing with little potential impact on the real financial world.

In the midst of a scandal-plagued year for Canadian business, York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School and Schulich School of Business took delivery of $2 million to help endow the Jarislowsky Dimma Mooney chair in corporate governance.

Waitzer is one of the most sought-after securities lawyers in Canada, wrote the newsletter. Some of his recent engagements included the Bell Canada privatization and Thomson-Reuters merger. At York, Waitzer will have a chance to apply his Bay Street smarts to improve corporate governance practices.

“The chair will be another point of reference and focus,” Waitzer says, “as we try to improve the system. We hope that what we do will have a positive impact on corporate performance, shareholder protection and the efficiency of capital markets.”

Although the chair is new, the scenery will be familiar. Last year, in addition to his downtown duties, Waitzer was also an adjunct professor at Osgoode. “I have always enjoyed the challenge of teaching. It forces you to go back to first principles. With students, you can never take anything for granted. They are always challenging your assumptions. You have to start back at square one and win them over.”

On air

  • Robert Drummond, political science professor and dean of York’s Faculty of Arts, spoke about the exclusion of the Green Party from the provincial leaders debate on 680 News radio Sept. 20.