Ten­nessee girl safe; teacher ar­rested

Pair found near cabin month af­ter po­lice say man kid­napped her

The Dallas Morning News - - NATION -

A 15-year-old Ten­nessee girl was res­cued near a cabin in a re­mote part of north­ern Cal­i­for­nia, more than a month af­ter her 50-year-old teacher kid­napped her and set off a na­tion­wide man­hunt.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A 15-year-old Ten­nessee girl was res­cued near a cabin in a re­mote part of north­ern Cal­i­for­nia on Thurs­day, more than a month af­ter her 50year-old teacher kid­napped her and set off a na­tion­wide man­hunt, au­thor­i­ties said.

Health sci­ences teacher Tad Cum­mins sur­ren­dered to sher­iff ’s deputies with­out in­ci­dent in Ce­cil­ville, Calif., hours af­ter they found his ve­hi­cle in the area, the Ten­nessee Bureau of Investigation said. The girl was ap­par­ently healthy and un­harmed, and au­thor­i­ties said their main con­cern was her emo­tional and men­tal state.

“We couldn’t be hap­pier to tell you she will soon be on her way back home,” Ten­nessee Bureau of Investigation Di­rec­tor Mark Gwyn said.

Cum­mins faces a fed­eral charge of tak­ing a mi­nor across state lines to have sex, as well as state charges of ag­gra­vated kid­nap­ping and sex­ual con­tact with a mi­nor.

Au­thor­i­ties re­ceived a tip late Wed­nes­day that the pair may have taken up res­i­dence, per­haps for more than a week, in the woods in Ce­cil­ville, where cell­phone cov­er­age is lim­ited, bureau spokesman Josh Devine said. Au­thor­i­ties ear­lier said the ar­rest hap­pened at a com­mune but later clar­i­fied that it oc­curred in a re­mote area, where the ter­rain was dif­fi­cult to tra­verse and snow was still on the ground in some places.

The pair’s dis­ap­pear­ance March 13 came af­ter Cum­mins was in­ves­ti­gated by the school sys­tem when an­other stu­dent re­ported see­ing the then-mar­ried teacher kiss the girl at the Culleoka Unit School. Culleoka is a com­mu­nity about 60 miles south of Nashville near the Alabama state line.

“We’re so happy that Cal­i­for­nia po­lice worked quickly and were able to find them and get her safe,” one of the girl’s sis­ters told The Ten­nessean.

“I be­lieve the FBI are go­ing to make sure she’s healthy be­fore she comes home,” she said. “We’ll make sure she’ll get what ther­apy she needs and that she’s safe, that she knows she’s safe.”

Court pa­pers filed re­cently in the girl’s dis­ap­pear­ance said she was afraid of the teacher and thought she would face reper­cus­sions at school if she re­sisted him.

A lawyer for the girl’s fam­ily has said the teacher was al­lowed to con­tinue work­ing at the school for two weeks af­ter he was re­ported kiss­ing the girl. At­tor­ney Ja­son What­ley has said the school sys­tem must have not be­lieved the stu­dent’s re­port.

TAD CUM­MINS

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