NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CN) – The former Tennessee high school teacher arrested in California after going on the run for over a month with a female student was indicted Thursday on charges of obstructing justice and transporting a minor across state lines for sexual purposes.
Tad Cummins, 50, was arrested on April 20 in northern California, where 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas was recovered safely.
Thomas disappeared from her home near Columbia, Tenn., on March 13. Cummins was her high school teacher in Maury County. The disappearance came a few weeks after a student reported seeing Thomas and Cummins kissing in school.
An Amber Alert was issued soon after her disappearance. Surveillance video from an Oklahoma City Wal-Mart showed the two together at the store on March 15.
They were the subject of a nationwide manhunt before Cummins and Thomas were found in a cabin near a commune in Cecilville, Calif.
Thomas was returned to her family in Tennessee. Cummins was held in California until he waived a detention hearing and was brought back to Tennessee on May 9. A magistrate judge then ordered him held in custody to await action by a grand jury.
On Thursday, a federal grand jury in Nashville charged Cummins with transporting a minor across state lines for the purpose of engaging in criminal sexual conduct and obstruction of justice.
He is accused of taking Thomas across the country with the intent that she “engage in sexual activity,” and is also accused of destroying his and Thomas’s smartphones to impede the investigation against him.
Cummins also faces state charges of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor.
If convicted on the federal charges, he faces a minimum sentence of 10 years and up to life in prison.