The trial for the former Tennessee teacher accused of abducting his teen student and taking her across state lines is less than two weeks away, and the victim’s family is trying to prepare themselves for a “highly emotional” time.
“It’s a highly emotional issue,” Anthony Thomas, father of abducted teen, Elizabeth Thomas, told PEOPLE. “[Going to court] is going to be very difficult for everybody.”
Tad Cummins, 50, is currently behind bars for reportedly kidnapping Elizabeth when she was just 15. He took her across state lines, from Tennessee to California, and evaded arrest for a little over a month. During that time, he allegedly had sex with the minor teen on numerous occasions, helped her dye her hair, and changed his own appearance to avoid detection. The pair was found hiding out in a remote cabin in Siskiyou County, California.
Although it’s unclear if Elizabeth will actually testify against Cummins, Anthony Thomas said that her family would be at the trial regardless.
“We’ve spoken many times as a family. [Going to court] is just something we’re going to have to go through.”
Since her return home, therapists and counselors have been working with Elizabeth and helping her deal with the emotional trauma she experienced at the hands of Cummins. Her father said that she has made progress, but still has a ways to go.
Tad Cummins’ trial is scheduled to start July 25. He pleaded not guilty to a federal abduction charge and according to his attorney, Cummins has “no history of violence and no criminal history whatsoever.” If convicted, he faces a minimum of 10 years and maximum of life in prison on federal charges alone. He’ll also face state charges in a separate hearing.
Cummins has until July 21 to take a plea deal.
[Feature Image: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation]