This article was originally published in March 2019.
In 2010, Daniel Katsnelson, then 27, was sentenced to eight years in prison. Katsnelson was found guilty of sexually assaulting two York University students three years earlier. Today, 36-year-old Katsnelson has adopted the alias of Daniel Kaye (or professionally, Daniel Katz). He has been reportedly identified on various online dating apps, including Tinder.
Numerous sources have confirmed that the man in a Tinder profile circulating online over the past week is indeed Daniel Katsnelson. It's unclear whether or not this profile was made by Katsnelson himself, or by someone else.
Katsnelson, the man who formerly pleaded guilty to charges of sexual assault and sexual assault causing bodily harm, alongside accomplice Justin Connort (who was sentenced to three years in prison), was recently released from jail and has been recognized by his victims on social media and numerous dating apps. He currently works as a Director of Business Development, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Female Facebook users have since banded together to warn the GTA of Katsnelson’s criminal past, alleging that Katsnelson continues to remain a public threat, especially to young and vulnerable women who may not even be aware of the 2007 York University sexual assaults.
Numerous sources, who have elected to remain anonymous for security reasons, have made their beliefs very clear - Katsnelson’s troubling lack of remorse and alarming statements of intense victim - blaming substantiate the claim that Katsnelson continues to pose a danger to women in the community.
After an evening of binge drinking, Katsnelson – who, at that time, had no prior criminal record - snuck into York University's Vanier residence with Connort at 3:00 AM on September 7th, 2007. Both Katsnelson and Connort had graduated from York University the year before and were familiar with the campus.
According to a legal statement of facts, the two men lurked from floor to floor, scavenging for unlocked dorm rooms, “hoping to get lucky”. Katsnelson confessed to entering six different residence rooms on various floors and raping two female students in a span of two hours.
The attacks occurred on the first pub night of the year, and the names of the residents were still on each dorm room door, facilitating Katsnelson’s and Connort’s strategic selection of which rooms to enter.
According to court statements, the men approached the dorms, desperately attempting to gain access inside the residence’s rooms under the guise of “helping an intoxicated resident”. When the men found one door unlocked on the seventh floor, they entered the room uninvited and roused a sleeping 17-year-old female. Her roommate had gone out earlier and forgot to lock the door.
Katsnelson and Connort engaged the female in “small talk” prior to taking off her clothes, kissing her, and finally, sexually assaulting her, documenting the crime by taking pictures with Katsnelson’s cellphone.
Katsnelson also admitted to engaging in non-consensual sex with an 18-year old student in another unlocked room. Forensic investigators later identified surveillance footage of Katsnelson entering the dorm, as well as Katsnelson’s DNA on his victims and at the scene.
One of his victims was a virgin, never before having engaged in a sexual relationship. The other victim sustained physical trauma from the attack, bleeding for the duration of a week following the assault. But even more devastating than the physical pain endured in the weeks after the attacks was their persistent fear and mistrust.
According to The Globe and Mail, of the women said, “I am afraid of the dark and always sleep with the TV on…Rape is like a tattoo; it may fade away with time, but it will never be gone.” Two sentences into her statement, the second victim broke down in tears.
Contrastingly, Katsnelson’s statements revealed an entirely paradoxical sentiment. His lawyer revealed to the court that Katsnelson hoped “some day, the victim will be able to take something positive away from this, as he has”. When asked what that might be, Katsnelson suggested that now “maybe she will know to keep her doors locked”.
Even a Toronto Police officer advised women at a York University safety meeting in 2011 that they can avoid sexual assault if they don’t dress like “sluts”. He prefaced the offensive comment to the crowd with “I’ve been told I shouldn’t say this”.
Despite his written apology nearly a month later, the remark vividly demonstrates how victims are often perceived to be at fault for crimes they had absolutely no involvement in committing.
In a court statement, Katsnelson reportedly said, “The past two years have been hell for me”. Upon hearing his statement, one of the survivors responded “If he thinks that is hell, he deserves to be in hell. His suffering is nothing compared to what I have gone through.”
One of the victims dropped out of school as a result of the assault. The first victim stated, “I have been given a life sentence through no fault of my own.” The second victim asserted “I feel like damaged goods. I have lost my sense of independence. I am sure I will never be the same.”
Daniel Katsnelson raped two women, one of them was a virgin, one bled for a week. He also goes by Daniel Kaye. Tinder you need to ban this man. @TorontoPolice are rapists on probation allowed to use dating apps? pic.twitter.com/RFS5IlaHaE— Shannon Hunter (@Shananigans) February 12, 2019
Both women revealed in their individual victim impact statements that the attacks left them permanently damaged. One of the victims even sued York University for $3.5 million, after claiming the university had neglected to protect students. The university responded by spending $3 million to improve campus security, reported the National Post.
Despite being placed under house arrest, Katsnelson legally changed his name to Daniel Kaye, and was permitted to start a company called Go Go Green, which was later rebranded as the Responsible Business Group in 2008. The business was registered under Katsnelson’s mother, Svetlana Fishbein, at their family home in Thornhill, according to CTV.
The Responsible Business Group established the Live Green Toronto Membership Card, and partnered with the City of Toronto in 2009, announcing its five-year contract with the city on its blog. Katsnelson reportedly identified himself as the company’s manager of business development and explained in a 2009 podcast interview with the blog This is Toronto, “It was initially developed as a local savings card for environmentally and socially responsible businesses."
In August of that year, Katsnelson’s involvement with Responsible Business Group was made public, when then Toronto Mayor David Miller posted a photo of himself with his arm around Katsnelson (who was known as Daniel Kaye by then), at a Live Green promotion on his Twitter account. After facing intense media scrutiny for their intimate business partnership, a spokesperson for the former mayor later insisted that he had no idea that Kaye was, in fact, Katsnelson or had any inkling of the criminal charges.
In 2011, York University was under siege by Canadian media for reportedly posting advertisements in York Lanes for Live Green Toronto, the Toronto environmental group that was inextricably linked to the convicted Vanier rapist, as he both created the business group responsible for the membership card and served as the company’s business development manager.
The York University Development Corporation promptly removed the Live Green Toronto banners after members of the York Federation of Students learned of the corporation’s association with Katnelson, who pleaded guilty just one year earlier.
Katsnelson and Connort faced 11 different charges: 5 counts of breaking and entering, 2 counts of sexual assault, 2 counts of gang sexual assault, and 2 counts of forcible confinement. Rather than going to trial, Katsnelson turned himself into 31 Division in North York with his lawyer and pleaded guilty to the charges. At the time that Katsnelson was sentenced, prosecutor Andrew Locke was pleased with the 8-year sentence, despite the Crown asking for a 10-year sentence. He believed that the conviction would send “a very clear signal that serial predators, particularly those that will operate on the campuses of universities, will be dealt with fairly but firmly.”
But, those who have been personally impacted by Katsnelson’s transgressions are not convinced that the prosecution is upholding their promise of delivering clear signals and firm stances in response to predatory sex crimes. While it is likely the case that Katsnelson has been registered as a sex offender, the public does not have access to the Ontario Sex Offender Registry.
Since his legal name change, his former reputation as the York University Rapist likely won’t raise any red flags for those who interact with him upon his release.
Unsuspecting women on dating apps, many of whom are too young to even remember the traumatic events that occurred in York University’s Vanier dormitory during frosh week of 2007, may not detect a single sign of Katsnelson’s criminal past. The Tinder profile makes no mention of his conviction or imprisonment.
A source who ran in the same circle of friends as Katsnelson over 10 years ago reported to Narcity, “I am 100% not surprised that this happened”, insisting that he “had always been a creep, made people uncomfortable, and exhibited inappropriate and pushy behaviour.”
She explained that upon the surfacing on Katsnelson’s Tinder profile, one of the victims of the York University rapes approached her online, confiding in her that being subjected to his appearance on social media is forcing her to “relive the whole situation, how he destroyed her life, and especially, how terrifying it is to her to know that someone can now go on a date with him without having a clue".