Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Documents: Teen Abused by Mom before Kidnapping by Teacher

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Documents: Teen Abused by Mom before Kidnapping by Teacher

Article excerpt

COLUMBIA, Tenn. * A 15-year-old Tennessee girl who authorities say was kidnapped by her teacher had endured months of abuse at the hands of her mother, according to court documents, making her particularly vulnerable to an adult predator.

The mother is scheduled to appear in court next month and has pleaded not guilty to five counts of abuse and neglect involving several of her children. The girl's father filed for divorce Monday, citing the alleged abuse. His daughter was found with her teacher last week at a cabin in northern California.

The girl's father has said the teacher, 50, brainwashed his daughter. In divorce documents, he said the teacher used his position of authority to "prey upon her, groom her, and ultimately entice her into running away with him."

The Associated Press is not naming the student or any family members because the teen is an alleged victim of a sex crime.

The teacher, Tad Cummins, faces federal charges of bringing a minor across state lines for sex and state charges of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor. Cummins' attorney has said the girl went with her teacher willingly and was not forced, threatened or coerced.

A history of abuse at home can make children particularly susceptible to manipulation disguised as help, said David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.

"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," he said.

Authorities said the mother physically abused several of her children for about a year, beginning in November 2014. The teen's father was living at home during that time, but the couple separated in November 2015 and the father took sole custody of the children, according to the divorce filing. …

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