Authorities: Teen-teacher relationship not a ‘romance’

Elizabeth Thomas | Tad Cummins (Courtesy: TBI)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee authorities say it is inaccurate to use the word “romance” to describe the relationship between a 15-year-old girl and a 50-year-old teacher who disappeared together two weeks ago.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn said Tuesday at a news conference that teacher Tad Cummins manipulated Elizabeth Thomas and kidnapped her.

Maury County District Attorney Brent Cooper said he used the word “romantic” to describe the nature of draft emails exchanged between the two, but should have used the word “grooming.” He said a 50-year-old educated man trying to convince a vulnerable teenage girl that being in a relationship with him was the right thing to do is not a romance, but a serious crime.

Elizabeth Thomas is described as 5 feet tall and 120 pounds with blond hair and hazel eyes. Cummins is described as about 6 feet tall and 200 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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