NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A federal judge has ordered Tad Cummins, a Tennessee high school teacher accused of kidnapping his 15-year-old student, be held until trial, saying he is a flight risk and a danger to the community.
That decision came after a FBI agent testified that the teacher told authorities he had sex with the girl "most nights" during the 38 days he was on the run with her. The agent also said Cummins told authorities the sexual relationship began after they disappeared March 13th.
The testimony came during a detention hearing in a federal courtroom in Nashville. The married father of two faces a federal charge of bringing a minor across state lines for sex. He faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of a life sentence.
WHNT News 19's Chelsea Brentzel was in the courtroom (no electric devices were allowed inside) and she tweeted updates when she was able. During the detention hearing we learned other details about Cummins' journey from Columbia to California with the kidnapped teenager.
A special FBI agent revealed that Cummins had mentored numerous troubled and abused students at Culleoka School. Cummins' attorney claims that the 50-year-old felt like he needed to protect the 15-year-old student.
On the day they went missing, the pair first drove from Columbia, Tenn. to Decatur, Ala. where Cummins disabled GPS and threw both of their cell phones in the Tennessee River.
The first night they were missing on March 13th they spent in Mississippi. Then they spent a few nights in various towns in Oklahoma. They then traveled west to Colorado where they were spotted in video surveillance in a Walmart in Cortez, Colo.
It was in Cortez, Colo. where Cummins purchased a tablet device to keep up with news focusing on their disappearance.
In southern California he bought a kayak for $1,500 with the intent to flee to Mexico. As Cummins and the victim were testing the kayak in the water, Cummins says he encountered a law enforcement officer, and he says they briefly talked about kayaks. Cummins then continued to test the kayak, and when they returned to shore they encountered the same officer and Cummins thought he had been caught. It turns out that the law enforcement officer had just come back to warn them of rough waters due to weather.
In an audio recording played in the courtroom, Cummins told his wife over the phone that he wanted to go back home three weeks before he was caught. he told his wife that the victim refused to go back home, and he was afraid to leave her because he worried that authorities would have thought he'd killed her.