Tad Cummins Sentenced to 20 Years for Kidnapping Teenage Student
The former Tennessee teacher led authorities on a cross-country manhunt.
Former Tennessee teacher Tad Cummins has been sentenced to 20 years behind bars in the kidnapping of 15-year-old student Elizabeth Thomas.
Cummins, 52, had pleaded guilty in April to federal charges including crossing state lines to have sex with a minor.
The instructor had been suspended in February 2017 after a student saw him kissing the 15-year-old on campus, police said. In March, Cummins left a note for his wife saying he was leaving to "think" and asking her not to call police. Thomas was reported missing by her father the same night.
Cummins had faced a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison.
He coerced Thomas into running away with him, prosecutors said, and destroyed their cellphone to avoid detection. Amber Alerts were issued for the girl in Tennessee and Alabama.
But authorities found the pair in a secluded California cabin more than month later, after receiving an anonymous tip about the older man and the high school girl staying at a commune.
Cummins was taken into federal custody. Thomas was returned to her family in Columbia, Tennessee.
The girl's family has filed a civil suit against Cummins and the school district.
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