Sexual assault suspect charged with stalking on campus

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Claude Abran Finch III, the suspect arrested in connection with a November 16 sexual assault incident involving a female student at Southern Adventist University, has been charged with stalking, a class A misdemeanor, according to a Collegedale Police Department (CPD) press release published yesterday. A November 17 CPD press release stated that Finch was to be booked on three felony charges — evading arrest, reckless endangerment and the alleged sexual assault — after he was taken into custody that day. 

 Yesterday’s release stated that Finch received the stalking charge due to the allegations of a separate female Southern student who reported having a “harassing encounter” with Finch on November 15 and 16 before the alleged sexual assault. 

“The victim told officers that she was driving through campus trying to get away from Finch, who had allegedly been following her in his own vehicle, and that she was ‘scared for her life,’” the press release stated concerning one of the encounters. “That was when she called the university’s Campus Safety Department for help.”

The press release further stated that the victim said Campus Safety told her to park her car, lock her doors and wait for their arrival. She said after she did as instructed, Finch parked his car directly next to hers.

“Refusing to sit still and risk attack, the victim backed out of her parking space and kept driving,” the press release stated. “The suspect sped away when a Campus Safety vehicle arrived in the area.”

The press release stated that the victim’s reports of both encounters to Campus Safety were not forwarded to the police department until after the alleged sexual assault.

As stated in a previous Accent article, Director of Marketing and University Relations Isaac James wrote in an email to the Accent that a Campus Safety officer investigated the victim’s report from Monday, but no suspicious vehicle was seen. James stated that Campus Safety had nothing to report to the police because there appeared to be no active threat and little identifiable information available.

“Campus Safety takes every report seriously and investigates each situation,” James wrote in the email. “… Campus Safety involves the police when appropriate or allowed by law.”

According to the press release, Finch was arrested by Collegedale police on November 17 for the alleged sexual assualt and a vehicle pursuit during which Finch allegedly sped through a populated student housing area the day before. The November 17 CPD press release stated that the pursuit occurred after the police made contact with Finch after responding to reports of the sexual assault and asked him to step out of his vehicle.

According to yesterday’s press release, Finch was booked Wednesday on the stalking charge “after appearing in the Collegedale Municipal Court on his original assault and evading charges” and is now being held in the Hamilton County Jail without bond.

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