NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) - Former Maury County teacher Tad Cummins was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Wednesday.
The U.S. Attorney asked the judge to give him 30 years, but Cummins' attorney asked for 10 years.
It was a very emotional sentencing with tears from the former teacher as well as the victim. The Cummins family sat in the front row and Cummins' victim Elizabeth Thomas sat in the front on the opposite side of the courtroom
Thomas had planned on speaking but broke down crying when called up and instead passed on a statement. The statement read in part:
It is very difficult for me to stand here and fully describe the impact that Mr. Cummins' crimes have had on my life. The effects have been devastating and permanent, and they are not over. They are still an ongoing struggle that I experience one day, and sometimes even one moment, at a time in my life. Mr. Cummins, what you did to me is unspeakable. I don't know that any words could ever accurately express how much pain I have suffered and continue to suffer because of you.
You preyed upon a vulnerable girl and robbed her childhood. For the last two years, I've been picking myself up, piece by piece, and proving to myself that I am much, much stronger than you convinced me I was.
Tad Cummins is a sick, disgusting criminal. I believe Mr. Cummins' sentence should be 38 years in prison - one year for each day he kept me away from my family.
"This is the case of a vulnerable girl who trusted someone she thought was a special teacher who turned out to be a sexual predator," said U.S. Attorney Don Cochran after the sentencing. "Today we got justice for a brave victim who can get on with her life. And the good news is we’ve got a defendant who’s got the next 20 years to think about the consequences of his actions."
The teacher, who ran away with his student Elizabeth Thomas, was the subject of a nationwide Amber Alert in 2017.
Cummins later pleaded guilty to taking a minor across state lines with the intent to have sex.
The two were on the run for 38 days before they were discovered in a cabin in rural northern California.
Catch up on the case: Tad Cummins arrested, Elizabeth Thomas rescued at California cabin
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