Fernandina Beach police detective accused of drugging, sexually assaulting woman

City of Fernandina Beach is firing Officer John Finley after he was accused of ‘date rape’

NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. – The City of Fernandina Beach said it plans to fire a Fernandina Beach Police Department (FBPD) detective after he was accused of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman last month.

According to the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office, FBPD officer John Finley was arrested June 3 after investigators were contacted by an alleged victim that said she had been the victim of a “date rape.”

According to an arrest warrant, Finley, 33, and the alleged victim began texting after they met at her work. Finley later invited her over to his apartment.

When the woman went to his apartment on May 29, she told investigators he poured her a “Pink Lemonade Smirnoff” while his back was turned to her and she drank it. Later, according to a warrant, Finley insisted they watch a movie in his room and she reluctantly agreed. When Finley began to kiss and hug her, she told investigators she felt “paralyzed” and “really sleepy” and had no control of her body.

According to the warrant, Finley then performed a sex act on her and said “I shouldn’t be doing this” several times before he stopped and took a shower. After the shower, he returned to the bed and there was another sex act, the woman told investigators.

Eventually, the woman pretended to fall asleep but said she could see that Finley took a picture of her sleeping in his bed, the warrant states. Investigators eventually found a photo of the sleeping woman on Finley’s phone.

Finley eventually fell asleep himself and that’s when she left and drove home. The following day she did a 12-panel drug test and twice it tested positive for amphetamines, the warrant states. She then contacted the Sheriff’s Office.

When questioned by detectives, Finley said no sexual intercourse occurred. When detectives searched his apartment, one substance in a cup tested positive for amphetamines. He answered several questions from investigators about the night he saw the woman but his answers were redacted in the warrant. The name and age of the alleged victim were also redacted in the report.

Finley was booked and moved to the Duval County jail, where he remains on no bond. Authorities said Finley was transferred out of the Nassau County jail to avoid any conflict over his incarceration there.

News4JAX spoke to Jennifer Rodriguez from Quigley House about the scenario the alleged victim described.

“We always look at positions of authority, whether it’s law enforcement, teachers, coaches, clergy, as being trustworthy. Society sees them that way. And oftentimes perpetrators will take time to build trust, so they will focus on really trying to show that they are supportive of the individual,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said drugging is common with sexual assault, unfortunately.

“It’s just another way to make the individual more vulnerable. And you know, when your trauma brain is engaged, oftentimes you may freeze, regardless of being drugged or not. But it’s also a way for the individual to become confused. That’s where we see a lot of survivors blaming themselves like I don’t know what was going on. I wasn’t in control of my body. But it’s not their fault,” she said.

She also talked about trusting someone else with your drink.

“It’s very hard, because you don’t want to trust the stranger with your drink,” Rodriguez added. “And I think normally our society does a good job of teaching people like don’t leave your drink unattended. But in a situation like this, where you think that you know, the person or at least you don’t think that they will hurt you, you are going to trust them when they give you that drink.”

About the Author:

Brie Isom joined the News4JAX team in January 2021 after spending three years covering news in South Bend, Indiana.