Calif. judge deems Tad Cummins flight risk, orders he remain detained

Sketch of Tad Cummins in a Sacramento, Calif. courtroom on April 24, 2017. (Courtesy: Vicki Behringer via KXTV-TV)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A California judge sided with federal prosecutors Monday, deeming Tad Cummins a flight risk and danger to the community.

Magistrate Judge Kendall J. Newman ordered the 50-year-old remain detained until he is extradited to Middle Tennessee. It is now up to U.S. Marshals on when Cummins will be picked up and transferred to Tennessee, which could be any time now.

Cummins’ court-appointed attorney, Benajmin Galloway, released the following statement after the judge’s decision was handed down:

It is important to note that these allegations do not involve force, threats or coercion of any sort. As authorities in Tennessee acknowledge, the alleged victim left of her own free will. This was not an abduction or kidnapping as has been suggested. Mr. Cummins has no history of violence and no criminal history whatsoever. He 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.

The government’s arguments to the contrary were outlined in documents filed just hours before the 50-year-old appeared in court a mere four days after he was captured upstate in Siskiyou County.

Tad Cummins (Courtesy: Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office)

The former Maury County teacher is accused of kidnapping Elizabeth Thomas, a 15-year-old student, and transporting her across the country to partake in criminal sexual activity. If convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, up to life.

Authorities say Cummins “planned and executed an audacious scheme,” ultimately wanting to take Thomas to Mexico “and beyond for his own purposes.”

In arguing why he should remain detained until his trial, prosecutors explain how Cummins “began plotting his escape” with Thomas from the moment he was suspected of having an improper relationship with her earlier this year.

RELATED: Timeline of search for Elizabeth Thomas, Tad Cummins 

He’s accused of travelling in disguise and using various techniques to avoid law enforcement, including taking back roads to travel through 9 states, disabling the GPS on his wife’s 2015 Nissan Rogue, and switching the license plate twice.

Cummins reportedly “made a number of damaging admissions to law enforcement that provide alarming inside his mentality,” the documents states.

The former teacher reportedly admitted to leaving before he was criminally charged in an investigation about improper sexual behavior with Thomas in an attempt to avoid those charges.

Cummins also allegedly admitted to employing measures to elude capture, such as using aliases for both himself and Thomas, leaving a deliberately misleading note to his wife, and monitoring news outlets through a device he purchased while on the run.

According to federal prosecutors, he also admitted plans to cross the border of the United States into Mexico. Cummins reportedly “procured a small watercraft and conducted a test run to cross into Mexico across the water from San Diego.” He also reportedly considered the feasibility of crossing by land, saying he planned to travel even further south than Mexico.

This is the cabin where Tad Cummins and Elizabeth Thomas were staying before they were found on Thursday, April 20, 2017. (Courtesy: KDRV)

The government notes there is surveillance video from various places Cummins and Thomas visited while crossing the country as well as evidence of the items he purchased, the items recovered by law enforcement, and his confession.

PHOTOS: Inside Tad Cummins’ California cabin

“The crime alleged is heinous,” federal prosecutors say. “The criminal complaint details a person who abused a sacred position of public trust as a school teacher so that he could pursue an improper sexual relationship with a juvenile victim who was legally unable to consent to such a relationship.”

“Such a severe breach of the public trust was exacerbated by [his] bold scheme to flee Tennessee when officials became aware of his behavior,” the document continued. “During his flight, the defendant engaged in a daring cat-and-mouse run from law enforcement in order to further his own prurient desires while engaging in a number of sophisticated maneuvers to avoid being caught.”

The document concludes these factors and others “emphatically” support Cummins’ remaining detained until his trial. Click here to read the document in full.

Click here for complete coverage of the AMBER Alert for Elizabeth Thomas.