Former teacher Tad Cummins was sentenced in federal court Wednesday to 20 years in prison for the cross-country trip he took with a then-15-year-old Maury County high school student.

Cummins had earlier entered a plea of guilty on two counts of transporting a minor for sex and destroying evidence for destroying both of their cell phones.

Looking back on the Tad Cummins' case, one year later

Tad Cummins (Source: TBI)

Tad Cummins court sketch - 1/16/19

Tad Cummins, center, appears for sentencing in federal court on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. (Sketch by Mike Sowers)

Tad Cummins court sketch - 1/16/19

Tad Cummins sits in court during sentencing in federal court on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. (Sketch by Mike Sowers)

Cummins admitted he took the student on the trip that began March 13, 2017, spending 39 days on the run. Along the way, they stole license plates in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Utah, Nevada and Oklahoma to avoid being caught. The two bought a kayak in an attempt to paddle from California to Mexico but the water was too rough.

Cummins and the victim went from hotel to hotel. Prosecutors said she was sexually-abused over and over again.

Disturbing new details were released during sentencing on Wednesday.

Prosecutors painted the picture of Cummins as a classic groomer. He had a bed in his classroom and gave female students back rubs. He also told students he was in the CIA, had a lot of money, and that he had guns at the school.

The victim had been abused long before the incident.

Prosecutors said Cummins knew that the victim in this case had been sexually abused as a young child and knew she was suicidal which were some of the reasons he chose her.

They also said they interviewed a possible second victim, another one of Cummins' former students who said Cummins had also touched her inappropriately.

Investigators eventually found Cummins and the girl in California five weeks after they disappeared living in a cabin on a commune. It was then Cummins admitted to having sex with the teen several times.

Cummins was originally supposed to be sentenced back in September. Since he was sentenced in federal court, Cummins will have to serve all 20 years of his sentence with no possibility of parole.

In addition, the victim's family has filed a civil suit against Cummins and Maury County School District saying the school didn't do enough to protect the victim. Stick with News4 for updates on that case.

Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

WSMV Digital Content Producer

Joey is an award-winning Digital Content Producer who joined WSMV in September 2018.


Carley Gordon joined the News4 team as a reporter in 2009. Carley currently covers the crime beat around Middle Tennessee.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.