York U rapist sentenced to 8 years

A man who admitted sexually assaulting two students at York University three years ago was sentenced to eight years in prison on Wednesday

A man who admitted sexually assaulting two students at York University three years ago was sentenced to eight years in prison on Wednesday.

Daniel Katsnelson, 27, pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges of sexual assault and sexual assault causing bodily harm. An accomplice, Justin Connort, pleaded guilty to the assaults during an earlier appearance in 2008 and was sentenced to three years in prison.

According to a statement of facts, after a night of heavy drinking Katsnelson and Connort sneaked into the Vanier residence on York's campus in northwest Toronto at about 3 a.m. on Sept. 7, 2007.

The pair went floor to floor, searching for unlocked rooms. Over the next two hours, Katsnelson entered five different rooms, raping two young women, aged 17 and 18 at the time.

In victim impact statements, both women said the attacks left them permanently damaged.

"What happened to me that night is never far from my mind," one victim said. "And I'm sure now that I will never be the same. I lost a big part of myself that night and in the days that followed."

Although the Crown asked for a 10-year sentence, prosecutor Andrew Locke said he was happy with the sentence, which sent "a very clear signal that serial predators, particular those that will operate on the campuses of universities, will be dealt with fairly but firmly."

Katsnelson, who had no prior criminal record, will be eligible for parole after he has served one third of his sentence, roughly 36 months. 

One of Katsnelson's victims is suing York for $3.5 million, alleging the university failed to protect students. The university says it has spent $3 million improving security.

With files from CBC's Connie Walker and The Canadian Press