The former Tennessee teacher who led authorities on a manhunt after he allegedly kidnapped 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas is now claiming that authorities coerced a confession from him.
WHNT News 19 reports that Cummins, who was arrested in April in California after five weeks on the run with Thomas, is asking to have statements he made to investigators thrown out, claiming that they were coerced in cooperation with his estranged wife Jill Cummins.
Cummins’ attorney is reportedly arguing that investigators illegally convinced Jill to extract a confession from her husband after he was apprehended in California.
According to an affidavit obtained by the news station, Cummins is now claiming the authorities threatened him with a harsher sentence if he did not confess to having sex with the 15-year-old girl, and then pressured his wife to get a second confession.
Jill Cummins reportedly said that the Maury County Sheriff’s department asked her to get Tad to confess to having sexual relations with the teen “in case it was ruled by the court that the initial confession obtained by the agents was coerced,” the affidavit reads.
At the time, Jill reportedly said that she did not wish to speak to her husband and refused the sheriff department’s request to record a call with him from insider her home. But ultimately, she asked Cummins if he had confessed to having sex with the teen and he admitted that he had.
Cummins faces up to 10 years in prison if he is convicted on both his federal charges: transporting a minor across state lines with the intent to have sex and obstruction of justice.
Prosecutors have not yet responded to the request to have the confession thrown out, and WHNT News 19 reports that a decision is not expected until after the New Year.
[Feature image: Maury County Sheriff/Tad Cummins]