Tad Cummins, the former teacher accused of abducting a 15-year-old teen from Maury County, Tennessee, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to federal kidnapping charges.
USA Today reports that Cummins, 50, waived his arraignment appearance scheduled for Thursday and entered the not guilty plea in a court filing. On May 18, he was formally charged with “transporting a minor across state lines for the purpose of engaging in criminal sexual conduct,” as well as obstruction of justice.
Authorities found Cummins and his former student on April 20, in a remote cabin in Siskiyou County, California. He managed to evade capture for a little over a month, despite a nationwide manhunt for him. Since his arrest, authorities announced that he had plans to sneak into Mexico by water from San Diego. He reportedly bought a kayak and was doing a test run when a police officer stopped him and told him the waters were too choppy. Paranoid that he would get caught, he changed his plans and drove to a remote area in California with his former student.
While Tad Cummins was on the run, his wife of over 20 years, Jill Cummins, filed for divorce and put their home up for sale. Last month, she said that her husband contacted her upon his arrest and admitted that he had sex with the 15-year-old.
The teen was taken back to her family is Tennessee, and reportedly had lost a substantial amount weight after eating wildflowers for nourishment occasionally while on the run with Cummins. She’s currently undergoing mental and emotional health treatment from professionals who deal with trauma victims.
If convicted, Cummins could face anywhere from 10 years to life in prison.
[Feature Photo: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation]