The Tennessee teenager whose 50-year-old teacher kidnapped and sexually assaulted her while taking her across the country in 2017 recounted her shock and confusion when he first kissed her inside his classroom.
Elizabeth Thomas, in an interview with ABC’s 20/20, said she was alone in Tad Cummins’ classroom and sitting on a table when Cummins told the then-15-year-old, “You’d look pretty nice naked.’ “
During the encounter at Culleoka Unit School, Elizabeth, now 17, said Cummins, her health sciences teacher, kissed her: “He grabbed my face.”
At that point, she said, “I realized this was getting too far.”
When asked by ABC News correspondent Eva Pilgrim if she had ever kissed a boy before, Elizabeth said, “I was 15. Being homeschooled, I haven’t really had a boyfriend.”
RELATED: The Saga of Missing Teen Elizabeth Thomas: From Her Disappearance to Discovery to Teacher’s Arrest
After Cummins kissed her, she said, “I was scared. I don’t wanna tell my parent that a grown man kissed me. And I don’t wanna tell my friends that a grown man kissed me.”
“I don’t like the spotlight being on me,” she added.
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Cummins kidnapped the high school freshman in March 2017, setting off a nationwide manhunt and AMBER Alert that lasted 38 days that ended when he and Elizabeth were found living in a four-walled shelter in Northern California.
Prior to her abduction, authorities and Elizabeth’s parents said he “groomed” her for months. He was fired from his teaching job after he was named the suspect in her disappearance.
RELATED: Ex-Teacher Allegedly ‘Groomed’ Missing 15-Year-Old Student Who May Have Disappeared with Him: Lawyer
In April of this year, Cummins pleaded guilty to federal charges of transporting a minor across state lines for the purpose of engaging in criminal sexual conduct and obstruction of justice.
He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years. Local TV station WZTV reports that Cummins’ sentencing hearing has been reset to Dec. 5.
RELATED: Cops Claim Tad Cummins Said He’s ‘Glad This Is Over’ During Arrest After Being Found with Teenage Student
The Columbia Daily Herald reported that when he pleaded guilty, Cummins said in court, “I cannot be the man I need to be and not tell the truth” before breaking down crying.
The first time Elizabeth spoke out was last September in an impromptu interview with the Daily Heard at a fast food restaurant. She was approached by the paper’s editor while getting food with two children she was babysitting.
“I don’t regret it, nor do I say it was the right thing to do,” she said. “It was an experience I’ll have to live with the rest of my life.”
RELATED VIDEO: Story Behind the Story: Elizabeth Thomas Abduction
“There’s been so much speculation about me,” she told the paper. “There are people saying, ‘She’s not talking for this reason. She’s not talking for that reason.’ It’s not that. It’s just the publicity is affecting people. Everyone just needs to calm down. I am a human being. I can answer things fairly. But people are asking things that are too personal. People are talking to me like they know me. They didn’t talk to me before. They didn’t try to know me before. They have only liked me since I came back.”
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