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Florida high school band leader ran ‘cult-like’ group at his farm 

An orchestra director at Leesburg High School in Florida has resigned amid an investigation after he was accused of operating a ‘cult-like’ group for students posing as a Bible study group.

Gabriel Fielder would allegedly invite teenagers to his 13-acre farm outside Leesburg, 40 miles northwest of Orlando, where high school students would be forced to do manual labor to prepare for what Fielder claimed was the apocalypse. that was approaching

The gang leader also reportedly ordered the teens to pay tithes, mandatory donations made to a church, to his group, known as The Elder Council, it reports. The daily commercial.

They were reportedly forbidden from telling their parents about the group in case they thought it was a ‘cult’.

Gabriel Fielder joined Leesburg High School and was the leader of the school's Swarm of Sound band.

Gabriel Fielder joined Leesburg High School and was the leader of the school’s Swarm of Sound band.

Working with Fielder in leading The Elder Council, established in 2018, was Leesburg guidance counselor Leonardo, also known as Lenny Finelli.

Online records show that Finelli and Fielder registered a nonprofit organization in Leesburg called The Elder Council Inc. in November 2019.

Alarm was raised about the couple’s operation when Finelli was accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a male student.

Finelli allegedly shared inappropriate texts with the teen in September 2020 and then dated him when the student turned 18 in November 2021, reports Click on Orlando.

Fielder owns a 13-acre farm outside Leesburg where he forced students to do manual labor.

Fielder owns a 13-acre farm outside Leesburg where he forced students to do manual labor.

According to a former cult member, Fielder often talked about the apocalypse and attempted out-of-body experiences.

According to a former cult member, Fielder often talked about the apocalypse and attempted out-of-body experiences.

The couple’s alleged relationship lasted three months.

That student told his therapist about activities on Fielder’s farms. The therapist then turned to school authorities.

A former member of The Elder Council described the group’s activities to The Daily Commercial: “He basically told us that he had such a close relationship with God that it was very, very, very rare and rare for him to be wrong.” And his thing was: ‘If I’m wrong, then God is going to correct me, you don’t need to correct me.’

The former member said that after a while, Fielder began trying to control elements of the teen’s life while speaking in tongues and trying to have out-of-body experiences.

In his resignation papers, Finelli cited

Leonardo alias Lenny Finelli is also accused of sending inappropriate messages to a student

Leonardo alias Lenny Finelli is also accused of sending inappropriate messages to a student

Gabriel Fielder registered The Elders Club as a non-profit organization in Florida in November 2019

Gabriel Fielder registered The Elders Club as a non-profit organization in Florida in November 2019

That included using the Life360 app to monitor their locations.

Fielder would reportedly tell students that the purpose of the manual labor was related to the coming apocalypse.

He told the member: ‘Don’t describe this like that because your parents aren’t open to all these things yet. They will think we are a sect.

An online biography of Fielder when he ran for a Leesburg City Council seat quotes him as saying, ‘I think we were designed to be creators, not consumers. By teaching and guiding people to be self-sufficient, you are lifting them out of dependency on others and improving the culture one person at a time.’

The former member told The Daily Commercial that members of the group began to split from Fielder in 2021, leading to The Elder Council disbanding.

Those who detracted from the group were known as witches.

Neither Fielder nor Finelli will face charges in connection with The Elder Council. Both resigned amid an investigation in May 2022.

Lake County Schools officials insisted the club was not sanctioned by the district and no meetings were held at the school.

Lake County Schools officials insisted the club was not sanctioned by the district and no meetings were held at the school.

at Fielder’s resignation documents, he cites his reason for leaving school as seeking a job outside of education, while Finelli says he is leaving for ‘personal reasons’.

Finelli also noted in his filing that he did not report to work for four days while under initial investigation.

The unnamed former member told The Daily Commercial: “It shook me to think that I might be in a cult and everything in my life is completely wrong.” But I don’t even know if he understood how damaging it was to all of us. I do not think it does. And honestly, I don’t think he was completely malicious.

Sherri Owens, communications coordinator for Lake County Schools, said in a statement that the group was not affiliated with the school district and the meetings were not being held on school property.

According to Fielder’s LinkedIn page, he is a graduate of Florida State University and the University of Florida, where he studied education and music. Fielder attended Leesburg High School, graduating in 1997.

Fielder began working at Leesburg High School in August 2002. His duties are as follows: ‘Serve as a nonprofit board member, design and implement curriculum for the music classroom, web design, event planning, budget coordination, travel planning, fundraising, and music instruction.

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