A former Tennessee teacher claimed police and his wife “coerced” him into admitting he had a sexual relationship with a teen student he ran off with earlier this year.
Brent Horst, an attorney for Tad Cummins, 50, argued in court papers a federal judge released this month that statements the former educator made after his arrest should not be used in court.
Horst said law enforcement illegally schemed with Cummins' estranged wife to pressure him to confess that he had sex with his former student, Elizabeth Thomas.
“The psychological pressure and coercion brought to bear upon the defendant by his wife’s admonishment to him to confess would have bared fare less weight upon the defendant — even the next day as he spoke to known agents — had he known his wife was actually an enlisted informant and that she was not acting solely in his interest or the interest of the marriage,” the motion stated, according to People.
Horst said authorities suggested Cummins could be charged with rape if he did not confess to consensual sex with the girl. Cummins was ultimately charged with taking a minor across state lines for sex, and obstruction of justice after allegedly admitting they had sex during most of their 38 days on the run.
Cummins, 50, and Thomas, 15, vanished on March 13, sparking a cross-country manhunt. Cummins was Thomas’ teacher at Culleoka Unit School. The two were spotted in mid-April in a remote county in northern California, following a tip to police.
Cummins was suspended without pay from the school after he was caught kissing Thomas in January. He was not fired from his position until March, a day before the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation issued an Amber Alert for the missing teen. While investigators searched for the teen, they discovered emails between the student and Cummins showing the two had what investigators labeled a “romantic interest in each other,” police said.
Cummins’ wife, Jill, told Inside Edition earlier this year that her husband admitted to having sex with the teen student. She filed for divorce from her husband two weeks after he was found, People reported.
People reported Thomas went back to her hometown Columbia and was being homeschooled.
Cummins was ordered to be held until his trial. He has filed paperwork stating he was pleading not guilty.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.