Missing Tennessee Teen's Mom Accused of Abuse

The 15 year old girl who was abducted by her teacher in Tennessee, was allegedly abused by her mother prior to her kidnapping.

Court documents say Elizabeth Thomas' mother had abused the teen for months and the resulting trauma is what made her vulnerable to an adult predator.

Fifty-year-old Tad Cummins, Elizabeth's teacher, is facing federal charges of bringing a minor across state lines for sex and state charges of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor. 

Director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire David Finkelhor says abuse at home can make kids easily manipulated.

"They're very vulnerable to the grooming because this is an adult who seems to care about them and is interested in them, and that's probably something they're not getting elsewhere."

Authorities say the mother physically abused her children for about a year beginning in late 2014.

Court documents accuse her of hitting her children until they bled, knocking one daughter unconscious with a piece of wood and throwing a chair at another.

Elizabeth's parents separated later the next year and her father had sole custody of the children.

The documents go on to say that her mother allegedly hit Elizabeth's head on a washing machine and in a separate incident, threw her down the basement steps and locking her inside.

Court records say the mother has been ordered to stay away from her children.

A relative says Cummins knew of the abuse Elizabeth suffered and used it to take advantage of her.

"We have a 15-year-old girl with a 50-year-old man and he obviously used his power, his authority to, whether it's groom her or convince her, to do certain things."

Early this year, a student at the school says they saw Cummins and Elizabeth kissing in his classroom.

This set off the investigation into their relationship.

School records say Elizabeth often relied on Cummins for emotional support.

"She looks at him like a friend and a counselor who knows how to calm her down when she is experiencing anxiety."

The school removed her from his class and subsequently fired him soon after.

Federal court documents allege he had been plotting his escape with her and planned to take her to Mexico, possibly by boat.

They were found in Northern California and Elizabeth was reunited with her family.

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