Leesburg band director, counselor accused of operating ‘cult-like’ secret society within school

LEESBURG, Fla. — A long-time Leesburg High School band director and a guidance counselor who also helped lead the band are off the job while under investigation, after allegations the band director was leading a “cult-like” secret society inside the school, according to police.


The student also said that while he attended the high school, the guidance counselor, who was in the group, sent him sexually explicit messages and asked to meet up with him, and the band director knew about it and deleted the messages.

Leesburg High School guidance counselor Leonardo “Lenny” Finelli Jr. once served as music and marching instructor under long-time band director Gabriel Fielder.

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In his resignation letter, Finelli wrote, “While under investigation and reassigned, I did not call or show for 4 days. I understand this isn’t professional.”

Finelli resigned in lieu of termination.

Fielder has been the band director for almost 20 years.

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Last month, a former student filed a report with Leesburg police stating that, when the student was 17, he was a member of a secret society at Leesburg High School called the “Elder Council.”

He told police the group was “cult-like” and led by Fielder.

During that time, the student said Finelli “requested for them to meet up,” and asked the student what his penis size was and about his sexual orientation.

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The student said when Fielder learned about it, he deleted the messages and told the student and Finelli to stay apart.

The student said that, after he graduated from high school, he began a sexual relationship with Fenelli and moved in with him. Because he was 18 years old at the time, the state attorney’s office determined, there were no charges filed.

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State records show Fielder and Finelli started a nonprofit a few years ago called the “Elder Council.”

Next Monday, the school board will consider whether it will allow Fielder to resign in lieu of termination.

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Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal, WFTV.com

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.