The latest teacher sex scandal involves a 50-year-old Tennessee high school teacher who kidnapped a 15-year-old student -- who insists she's in love with him.
The student, Elizabeth Thomas, is in rehab and refusing to return home to her family, reports the Daily Mail. "Elizabeth says she's in love with [Tad Cummins] and that the pair of them haven't done anything wrong," according to one source. "She thinks she is a fully grown woman who can date who she likes. ... As far as she's concerned it was all one big, fun road trip. She says she had the time of her life which is obviously pretty tough for the family to hear."
A nationwide Amber Alert was initiated after Elizabeth disappeared from her hometown of Columbia, Tennessee with Cummins on March 13. The two were found on April 20 when police tracked the pair to a remote cabin in northern California and arrested Cummins without incident.
Elizabeth was flown back to Tennessee, where she entered a treatment center for trauma victims instead of being returned to her home -- a home which is reportedly fraught with trouble.
Her mother, Kimberly Thomas, is facing trial for abusing Elizabeth and several of her nine siblings. She is accused of beating Elizabeth, locking her in a basement, and throwing her down a flight of stairs. Her father, Anthony Thomas, says the abuse made his daughter easy prey for a predator.
However, according to her friends, Elizabeth doesn't want to live with her father, either, blaming him for coming between her and Cummins.
As a Daily Mail source summarized: "It's a very complex family situation right now. All they can do is stand by her and give her as much help as she needs to come to terms with what really happened. At the end of the day we are dealing with a very messed-up kid here. Cummins really did a number on her. She was not harmed physically but the mental scars will take years to heal."
As for Cummins, he faces numerous charges in Tennessee and California, in addition to a federal charge of transporting a minor across state lines with intent of having criminal sexual intercourse.
Nationwide, inappropriate teacher-student relationships are seemingly so commonplace that the website Zimbio published a popular article titled "The 50 Most Infamous Female Teacher Sex Scandals." The Cummins case recalls that of Mary Kay Letourneau, the teacher who was arrested for raping one of her sixth-grade students in 1997. After being released from prison in 2004, she and her victim were married in a highly publicized wedding ceremony.