Home / Top Story / Girl kidnapped by teacher sues Tennessee school board

Girl kidnapped by teacher sues Tennessee school board

A teenage girl and her father are suing a school board for failing to protect her from a married 51-year-old teacher who manipulated her into a sexual relationship before kidnapping her for 39 days, according to the lawsuit.

Tad Cummins, who is also named as a defendant in the civil suit, was a teacher at Culleoka Unit School in Maury County, Tenn., when he disappeared with 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas in March 2017.

The nationwide manhunt ended when the two were found in a remote cabin in California, and Cummins was arrested and charged with transporting a minor across state lines for the purpose of engaging in criminal sexual conduct.

Thomas is referred to in the lawsuit only as Jane Doe. The Daily News does not normally identify victims of alleged sex crimes, though the teen has previously given permission for those writing about her to do so.

Teen doesn’t regret running away with accused kidnapper

Several amber alerts were issued for Elizabeth Thomas, 15, who went missing with Tad Cummins in March 2017. 

Several amber alerts were issued for Elizabeth Thomas, 15, who went missing with Tad Cummins in March 2017. 

(Tennessee Bureau of Investigation)

Cummins, who was known for being a lax teacher, encouraged the teen to eat lunch in his classroom, where he kept a bed for students to nap on, according to the lawsuit.

She confided in Cummins, who told her his soul could see her soul. He also dissuaded her from seeking professional help for depression, the lawsuit states.

On one occasion, Cummins said he wanted to see her naked, the lawsuit alleges. He began kissing and fondling her before persuading her to perform oral sex on him in the classroom closet on a regular basis, according to the lawsuit.

https://twitter.com/TBInvestigation/status/844278267943305218

Cummins, who was known for being a lax teacher, encouraged the teen to eat lunch in his classroom before manipulating her into a sexual relationship, the lawsuit alleges.

(@TBInvestigation via Twitter)

“The growing relationship between Cummins and Jane was apparent to other Culleoka Unit School students and teachers,” the lawsuit claims.

Tenn. teacher accused of kidnapping teen planned escape to Mexico

But school officials failed to take a proper course of action as students and teachers alike gossiped about the relationship and called the teen a “whore”, the lawsuit alleges. 

When a student told the principal that he saw Cummins kissing the teen, the school launched an investigation.

*** World Rights ***

Cummins and Thomas were eventually found at a commune in northern Calif., 39 days after they went missing.

(USA TODAY Network/USA TODAY Network/Sipa USA)

But no one ever notified her parents, removed her from his class or bothered to call the police, according to the lawsuit.

The two were both allowed to go on a school field trip, during which Cummins propositioned the teen for sex, before the principal directed the two to stay away from each other, according to the lawsuit.

Two months after the school board concluded it could not verify claims that Cummins had kissed the girl, the two went missing.

After several Amber Alerts and a nationwide search, Cummins and Thomas were eventually found at a commune in northern California.

Cummins later told authorities he had sex with the girl most nights he was on the run, an FBI agent testified. 

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