Lawsuit: school ignored red flags before student’s abduction
COLUMBIA, Tenn. (AP) — A teenage girl and her father have filed a lawsuit against a school district and a former teacher charged with kidnapping a 15-year-old student last year.
Tad Cummins sparked a 39-day nationwide manhunt when he allegedly fled the state with the girl. But the lawsuit says teachers and the principal at Culleoka Unit School ignored red flags.
The lawsuit alleges a student saw Cummins, 51, kissing the girl and reported it to school administrators, who started an investigation. But the girl’s parents were not contacted and there was no initial effort to remove the girl from Cummins’ class, the suit says.
The Tennessean reported the federal lawsuit, filed Friday, seeks damages from both Cummins and the school district.
The Maury County Board of Education did not respond to a voicemail seeking comment.
In the days after administrators got the report of the investigation, Cummins chaperoned a field trip with her, the lawsuit said. After the field trip, the principal told both the girl and Cummins to have no further contact.
The girl’s father first learned of the incident when he got a call from the sheriff’s office on Jan. 31, about a week after the student reported the kissing incident, the suit said.
Cummins has been charged with transporting a minor across state lines for the purpose of engaging in criminal sexual conduct and obstruction of justice. He pleaded not guilty.
The suit accuses the school of failing to follow Title IX, a federal mandate requiring K-12 public schools to protect students from sexual harassment and promptly respond when allegations emerge.
An FBI agent testified last year Cummins told authorities that he had sex with the girl most nights during the time he was on the run with her. They were found in April in a remote area of northern California following a tip to police.
Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com