Former teacher Tad Cummins sentenced to 20 years in student sex case

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Tad Cummins, the former Tennessee teacher who was captured after more than a month on the run with a 15-year-old girl, was sentenced to 20 years in prison Wednesday afternoon.

Once he's released from prison, Cummins will also have supervision for the rest of his life.

Cummins was 50 when he was suspended from his teaching job in Maury County, Tenn., after he was reportedly seen kissing a student at school.

In March 2017, he and the 15-year-old left Columbia, Tenn., sparking a nationwide manhunt that lasted 38 days. They were caught in a remote part of northern California.

Cummins pleaded guilty last April to obstruction of justice and transporting a minor across state lines for the purpose of criminal sexual activity.

In court Wednesday, Cummins told the judge his "desire to help took a wrong turn beyond anything I could ever imagine."

Cummins also told the victim -- who was in the courtroom -- that what happened was not her fault.

Prosecutors read the victim's statement in court prior to sentencing as the victim was too emotional to speak. In it, she called Cummins a "sick, disgusting criminal" that should serve a year in prison for every day they were on the run.

"It is very difficult for me to stand here and fully describe the impact that Mr. Cummins' crimes have had on my life. The effects have been devastating and permanent, and they are not over. They are still an ongoing struggle that I experience one day, and sometimes even one moment, at a time in my life. Mr. Cummins, what you did to me is unspeakable. I don't know that any words could ever accurately express how much pain I have suffered and continue to suffer because of you. You preyed upon a vulnerable girl and robbed her childhood. For the last two years, I've been picking myself up, piece by piece, and proving to myself that I am much, much stronger than you convinced me I was. Tad Cummins is a sick, disgusting criminal. I believe Mr. Cummins' sentence should be 38 years in prison -- one year for each day he kept me away from my family."

Read the victim's entire impact statement here:

Before sentencing, the judge told Cummins she took into consideration his prior lack of a criminal record, his age and his desire for sex offender treatment.

Prosecutors said afterward they were pleased with the sentence.

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