Chattanooga trampoline park employee charged with sexual battery, soliciting child

Hamilton County Sheriff's Office / Claude Abran Finch III

A Chattanooga man was arrested Tuesday following allegations he attempted to grope a 10-year-old child while working at a trampoline park.

Claude Finch, 25, faces charges of aggravated sexual battery and solicitation of a minor, court records show.

(READ MORE: Grand jury indicts man accused of campus assault, stalking at Southern Adventist University)

Finch was indicted by a grand jury last year on charges of sexual battery, evading arrest and reckless endangerment related to reported stalking and sexual assault incidents on the Southern Adventist University campus in Collegedale in 2021. He is still awaiting trial on those charges, according to court dockets.

These latest charges come after a mother reported her 10-year-old child said Finch asked to grope the child's bottom in exchange for arcade credits totaling $60, an affidavit in the case states.

Finch was working security at the trampoline park, Urban Air, at the time of the Jan. 20 incident, a manager told police, according to the report. He was fired that day, corporate spokesperson Carolyn McLean said in a phone call Wednesday.

(READ MORE: Police arrest man after sexual assault reported on Southern Adventist University campus in Collegedale)

"I know that park conducted a thorough background check on the individual (Finch) and it was completely clean, completely clean," McLean said. "I can't make sense of that."

What shows up on a background check depends on what kind of check an employer orders, Chattanooga Assistant Chief Glenn Scruggs said during a news conference Wednesday. It's unclear why Finch's charges, of which he has not been convicted, would not have shown up on a background check.

Surveillance footage described in the affidavit reportedly showed Finch bringing the child to an area of the park out of the camera's view. After a short time, the child is reportedly seen running away from that area. Footage also appeared to show Finch leaving out a back exit before meeting with management about the reported incident.

(READ MORE: Man faces stalking charge after alleged sexual assault on Southern Adventist University campus in Collegedale)

The child's mother told police, according to the affidavit, that her child was crying while describing what happened. The child also told investigators that she told Finch her age when he asked, and that Finch asked her if she had a Snapchat account.

"He was stopped before anything actually occurred, by vigilant employees," McLean said. "We're thankful that happened and it was caught before it got any farther."

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It is unclear how long Finch worked at the park, as the company's policy doesn't allow hire dates and other personnel information to be released publicly, the spokesperson said.

Finch is in custody at Silverdale Detention Center, a public database shows. He is set to appear in Hamilton County General Sessions Court on March 27 in front of Judge Larry Ables.

Contact Ellen Gerst at egerst@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6319.