April 24, 2017 10:23 PM


Former Tennessee teacher Tad Cummins‘ public defender Benjamin Galloway claims his client did not coerce, force or threaten his alleged kidnapping victim, 15-year-old student Elizabeth Thomas.

In a statement to PEOPLE, Galloway says Cummins has “no history of violence and no criminal history whatsoever.” Cummins has not entered a plea to his charges in connection with Elizabeth’s disappearance..

Tennessee authorities declined to comment on his statement.

Galloway said Cummins “surrendered without incident and has been cooperative with investigators. He looks forward to returning to Tennessee as soon as possible to answer the charges against him.”

RELATED VIDEO: Sister of Missing Tennessee Teen Reacts as She’s Found Safely Says ‘They Were Found in a Commune’

Cummins and Elizabeth disappeared from Maury County, Tennessee, on March 13 and were the subject of an ongoing AMBER Alert for more than a month.

They were discovered in a remote cabin in Cecilville, California, after a tipster saw the pair and contacted authorities on Wednesday night, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Prosecutors have accused Cummins of violating “a sacred position of public trust as a school teacher.”

They alleged in court documents that he “planned and executed an audacious scheme to take a juvenile victim across the United States while evading law enforcement for the purposes of engaging in criminal sexual conduct.”

Cummins — who authorities have said also faces multiple charges in California and Tennessee — appeared in federal court in Sacramento, California, on Monday afternoon. He faces one federal count of transporting a minor with the intent to engage in sexual activity across state lines.

He has not entered a plea. He was detained as a flight risk and will be transported to Tennessee “as soon as possible,” a U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman said.


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