Ex-teacher accused of kidnapping teenage student wants out of jail, files new motion for freedom

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Courtroom sketch of Tad Cummins' federal arraignment (Courtesy: Vicki Behringer)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WHNT) – Tad Cummins, the former teacher in Tennessee that is accused of kidnapping a 15-year-old girl and taking her cross-country to have sex, has now filed a motion to get him out of jail while he awaits trial.

Cummins and his alleged victim were the focus of a month-long AMBER Alert that followed them across the country. They were eventually found in rural California. Cummins was returned to Nashville to face trial.

The motion says Cummins is being held “under conditions that deny him a reasonable opportunity to meet with counsel privately.”

The document argues Cummins has had his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights violated by the conditions.

The reason Cummins argues that he can’t meet with his lawyer privately is because he’s being held in the Henderson jail in Kentucky, which is 145 miles away from Nashville, where he’s being tried.

The motion says:

In the three months since Cummins was ordered detained, undersigned counsel has made two trips to the Henderson jail to confer with Cummins in person. Both times he has been denied the ability to meet with Cummins privately, although the first time was not as bad as the second.

Each time, counsel was directed to the jail’s group visitation room. This room is big enough to hold several (approximately eight) meeting areas that resemble study carrels found in a library. These carrels are side-by-side. Although they provide thin partitions between people who are meeting there, those partitions do not extend all the way to the ceiling. Moreover, the walls of the room are cement. Consequently, when someone speaks in a normal tone, he is at risk of being heard by anyone in the room.

It says during the first meeting a guard frequently walked back and forth through the room while Cummins met with his attorney. During the second meeting, the motion says the room had other inmates present.

His attorney argues the lack of confidentiality hampers Cummins ability to prepare for trial, makes him vulnerable to attacks by other inmates and could lead another inmate to make false claims about what Cummins was overheard saying.

However, despite the complaints being specific to the facility the motion is explicit, “To be clear, Cummins is not asking to be moved from Henderson Detention, where he at least has some semblance of safety; we are asking for his immediate release.”