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.

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