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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Idylwild Elementary School substitute arrested for stalking

The substitute teacher faces a felony charge for aggravated stalking of a child under 16

An Idylwild Elementary School substitute teacher was booked after midnight Saturday after making inappropriate contact with a student. He’s facing charges for aggravated stalking of a minor under 16 years of age.

Brandon Finley, a 28-year-old Gainesville resident and substitute teacher, approached an 11-year-old student Jan. 18, and told her that he would meet in her neighborhood after school, according to the arrest report. 

After the student exited the bus into her neighborhood, Finley called out to her from his Mustang and gave her a notebook and candy. The student felt “unfocused and in distress the rest of the day,” according to the arrest report.

The next day, Finley approached the student again in school and asked if she looked in the back of the notebook, where he left a phone number for the student to communicate with him.

The student didn’t notice the number originally, but later attempted to call Finley when she arrived home, the arrest report said.

After not answering the phone call, Finley instructed the student to only text the number and delete all correspondence. He also told her not to tell anyone and not to discuss the contact in person. 

“This is not something I’ve done with anyone else. Mfer could get in trouble. Don’t tell ya mom, anyone at school, nobody. Deal?,” Finley told the student. 

The student expressed emotional distress over the interaction with Finley and his knowledge of where she lived. Finley continued to contact the student, according to the arrest report. 

“I feel uncomfortable. I don't wanna talk to you anymore,” the victim said, according to the arrest report.

During his comments to law enforcement officers, Finley changed his story several times, according to the arrest report. However, he denied any sexual intentions with the student. He originally stated his intentions were to mentor the student, but later admitted to wanting to be friends with her. 

Finley admitted to texting with the student, meeting and giving the notebook to the student and intentionally going to her neighborhood, according to the report. He told officers he understood the contact with the student was inappropriate when he told her to hide all communication. 

Finley is being held at the Alachua County Jail with a $250,000 bond.

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Contact Megan Howard at mhoward@alligator.org. Follow her on X @meganmhxward.

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Megan Howard

Megan Howard is a second-year journalism major and the K-12 Education reporter for The Alligator. When she's not writing, you can find her rewatching the Eras Tour movie or reading The Hunger Games series.


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