Tad Cummins, the Tennessee teacher who disappeared in March with a then-15-year-old student before being found more than a month later in Northern California, believes he was coerced by authorities and his wife into admitting to having sex with the teenager, his attorney argued in a motion obtained by PEOPLE.
The motion, which was recently unsealed by a federal judge, requests that Cummins’ statements to authorities about his alleged sexual relationship with Elizabeth Thomas should not be used in court.
“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 states.
Cummins is charged with kidnapping and sex crimes for allegedly abducting Elizabeth, a freshman at Culleoka Unit School, where Cummins was a teacher, on March 13. Both authorities and Elizabeth’s family allege she was “groomed” for months by Cummins, who was fired from his teaching job during their disappearance.
In April, the pair was found sleeping in a secluded shelter in Northern California. Cummins was arrested while Elizabeth was safely recovered and later returned to Tennessee, where she received treatment.
Shortly after his arrest, Cummins’ wife, Jill, told Inside Edition that when she spoke to her husband from behind bars and asked if he slept with the teen, he said “Yes, I did.”
Cummins’ attorney accuses authorities of using Jill Cummins as a government informant and threatening his client with harsher penalties if he did not confess to sleeping with the teen, the motion states.
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Elizabeth and Cummins vanished from Maury County, Tennessee, on March 13 and had been the subject of an AMBER Alert for 38 days before they were found.
During their disappearance, disturbing details of the alleged relationship between Cummins and Elizabeth came out. Most notably, before the pair’s disappearance, Cummins had been suspended without pay after being accused of kissing Elizabeth inside his classroom earlier in January.
During the AMBER Alert, prosecutors revealed the pair allegedly traded “romantic” messages via Cummins’ school email.
Two weeks before Cummins and Elizabeth were found, Jill Cummins filed for divorce.
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In May, Elizabeth celebrated her 16th birthday privately, surrounded by family.
She has since returned to her hometown of Columbia, where she is being homeschooled and also babysits, Elizabeth told the Columbia Daily Herald.
It is unclear at this time whether she plans to testify in court. Cummins attorney has declined to comment on his case. Elizabeth’s family and attorney could not be reached for comment by PEOPLE.
Cummins is set to go to trial in Nashville in April, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.