The former high school teacher accused of abducting his teen student was indicted on two federal charges Thursday.
Tad Cummins, 50, was indicted on a charge of transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activities, according to PEOPLE. He was additionally charged with destruction, alteration or falsification of records in a federal investigation for allegedly destroying two phones to impede the investigation.
Cummins’ attorney stated that his client had no prior criminal history and noted that he did not coerce, force or threaten Elizabeth Thomas. The teen girl’s family disputes that claim. Thomas, who was 15 at the time of the alleged abduction, just turned 16 on Wednesday.
Cummins pleaded not guilty to the charges, according to CNN. Each count is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and, according to the Department of Justice, if convicted Cummins could face life in jail. He also faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison for his alleged crimes.
Cummins has been accused of allegedly kidnapping Thomas on March 13, prompting a national manhunt for the pair. After 38 days, they were found in a remote California cabin.
Cummins has allegedly admitted to having sexual contact with the teen during “most nights” during their five weeks on the run.
[Tennessee Bureau of Investigation]