January 16, 2019 / 11:38 PM / 4 months ago

Tennessee ex-teacher who took off with student sentenced to 20 years

FILE PHOTO: Tad Cummins, a former high school teacher accused of luring a 15-year-old student into his car outside of a restaurant and disappearing with the girl, is pictured in this police handout photo. Maury County Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

(Reuters) - A former Tennessee high school teacher who took off with a female student in 2017 on a cross-country journey that ended with his arrest in California was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Wednesday.

Tad Cummins, 52, was sentenced in federal court in Nashville by U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger, according to emails from a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee.

Cummins had faced a sentence of up to life in prison for transporting a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activities and up to 20 years in prison for obstructing investigations, court documents said.

Federal prosecutors had requested a sentence of 30 years, according to a court document. Cummins’ lawyer, Dumaka Shabazz, had asked for a sentence of 10 years, another court document said.

Shabazz and U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman David Boling did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the sentence.

In April, Cummins pleaded guilty to transporting a minor and obstruction. He became the subject of a nationwide manhunt after disappearing with one of his 15-year-old high school students in March 2017, near Columbia, Tennessee. Authorities said at the time he apparently had lured her into a car outside a restaurant.

The pair were discovered 38 days later in a remote cabin in Northern California near the Oregon border, where he was arrested and she was taken into protective custody.

The girl’s father previously said he believed his daughter had been “brainwashed” by Cummins.

Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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