Teacher accused of kidnapping to face
federal charges in Tennessee
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[April 25, 2017]
By Sharon Bernstein
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - A former
Tennessee schoolteacher accused of abducting a 15-year-old girl and
taking her on a multistate odyssey that included sexual abuse before the
pair were found in California will be returned to face federal
kidnapping charges in Nashville.
Tad Cummins, 50, appeared in U.S. District Court in Sacramento,
California, on Monday on a charge of transporting Elizabeth Thomas
across state lines for sex. She is a student at the high school where he
U.S. Magistrate Judge Kendall Newman ordered Cummins to be kept in
federal custody as a flight risk and a danger to others, and returned to
Tennessee for trial.
Cummins did not enter a plea during the hearing, at which prosecutors
detailed his alleged flight across the country with Thomas. During 38
days on the run, Cummins tried to avoid detection by switching license
plates on a 2015 Nissan Rogue he stole from his wife and disabling its
GPS system, authorities said.
Prosecutors argued Cummins posed a flight risk, saying he had tested out
a run to Mexico on a watercraft he procured. In Oklahoma, he bought KY
Jelly, a lubricant used for sex, and before leaving Tennessee he
refilled a prescription for Cialis, a drug used to treat erectile
dysfunction, showing he intended to have sex with the minor, prosecutors
"The alleged crime is heinous," assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Hitt wrote
in court documents. Cummins faces 10 years to life in prison if
But Cummins' attorney, public defender Ben Galloway, told a very
different story, saying Thomas went willingly with Cummins.
"It is important to note that these allegations do not involve force,
threats, or coercion of any sort," Galloway said in an email to Reuters.
"This was not an abduction or kidnapping as has been suggested."
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Tad Cummins, 50, a former Tennessee high school teacher accused of
abducting a 15-year-old student in March, seen in this booking photo
after his arrest by Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department’s Special
Response Team (SRT) in Cecilville area of Siskiyou County,
California, U.S. on April 20, 2017. Courtesy SCSO/Handout via
Cummins and Thomas became the subject of a nationwide search after he
apparently lured the girl into his car outside a restaurant in Columbia,
Tennessee, about 45 miles (72.4 km)south of Nashville.
They were discovered on Thursday in a remote cabin in Northern
California near the Oregon border.
Speaking to Nashville-ABC affiliate WKRN on Sunday, Thomas' sister, Kat
Bozeman, said the teen is receiving treatment at a mental health
Her father, Anthony Thomas, said Elizabeth is having a tough time.
“Sometimes she’ll be happy and laughing and back to the same old girl
and then she’ll be sometimes just in the fetal position crying," Anthony
(Additional reporting by Tom James in Seattle; Editing by Matthew Lewis)
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