A nationwide search was sparked in March this year when a Tennessee teenager disappeared. The 15-year-old was found 39 days after she went missing in an isolated hut in California, 4000km away from her hometown, with her teacher, 51-year-old Tad Cummins.
Father-of-two Cummins, who is currently behind bars, is facing kidnapping and sex crimes charge, PEOPLE reports.
Authorities believe the student was “groomed” by her teacher for months before she was abducted. In May, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation alleged Cummins “may have been abusing his role as a teacher to groom this vulnerable young girl for some time in an effort to lure and potentially sexually exploit her”.
The student, now 16, has spoken out about her life since the abduction.
“I don’t regret it, nor do I say it was the right thing to do,” she told the Columbia Daily Herald.
“It was an experience I’ll have to live with the rest of my life. It’s good and bad. It’s there. No matter what we do, we’ll have to deal with it.”
The teenager was spotted by a reporter at a fast food restaurant while she was babysitting and was approached for the interview. She explained that she was being homeschooled and attending regular therapy.
“I can’t really complain right now. I babysit kids, and I work in Columbia. I am studying at home,” she said.
But she did not comment on the case due to legal restrictions.
“There’s been so much speculation about me,” she added. “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.”
Cummins has two children with his wife, who filed for divorce in April. He is awaiting a trial in January.