Police arrest man after sexual assault reported on Southern Adventist University campus in Collegedale

THUMBNAIL / Claude Abran Finch III
photo Claude Abran Finch III

Collegedale police arrested a man Wednesday after a female student on the Southern Adventist University campus reported a sexual assault, according to the police department.

Claude Finch III was arrested at an apartment in the East Brainerd area, Collegedale police said on Facebook.

On Tuesday evening, officers met with the victim, who told them she had seen a red Chevrolet hatchback with tinted windows in several different locations around campus while she was out running.

When she stopped to rest, she saw the vehicle again and was grabbed from behind and sexually assaulted, according to the news release. She then hit her attacker and ran to a dormitory to call for help. She described the attacker as a thin black male, standing about 5 feet, 10 inches tall, wearing red sweatpants and a black hoodie, the release stated.

While speaking with the victim, officers found out that another female victim also reported suspicious activity involving a vehicle matching that description on Monday night and Tuesday evening. Her reports had been given to the campus safety department and had not been forwarded to the police department, police said.

Police immediately searched the area around the campus and spotted a vehicle matching the description on University Drive. When officers stopped the vehicle at College Drive East and Timberland Terrace and made contact with the driver, he said he was a Door Dash delivery driver.

When an officer asked the man to exit the vehicle, he sped from the scene through the student housing section on Timberland Terrace and through a gravel lot back onto University Drive. The release said the officer cautiously followed due to people walking nearby on sidewalks and around buildings, but the man was out of sight.

An investigation continued with assistance from the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, leading to Finch's identification. Finch was wanted by the Collegedale Police Department for evading arrest and reckless endangerment, both felonies.

"We are deeply troubled that someone would come onto our campus and attack one of our students," university spokeswoman Janell Hullquist said in a statement. "The health and safety of our campus family is of the utmost importance, and we are working closely with the Collegedale Police Department as they investigate this incident. We are also providing care and support to those involved."

- Compiled by Kim Sebring