Tennessee teacher Tad Cummins' alleged crimes look even more repugnant in the light of newly surfaced court documents. According to divorce papers filed Monday by the father of kidnapped 15-year-old student Elizabeth Thomas, the girl was physically abused by her mother for months before her parents separated in November 2015. Experts say this would have made it easier for Cummins to manipulate her. Children with a history of abuse at home are "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," Crimes Against Children Research Center director David Finkelhor tells the AP.
Father Anthony Thomas has had sole custody of the children since separating from Kimberly Thomas, the Tennessean reports. According to court documents, the couple have 10 children, four of them under 18, and the mother is accused of abusing five of them. Early last year, she was indicted on four counts of misdemeanor child abuse and neglect and one felony count of abuse. The father's divorce lawyer says Elizabeth is "very, very scared of her mother" and a restraining order has been granted preventing the mother from publicly commenting on her daughter's disappearance. Cummins, who faces charges including aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor, allegedly planned to take the girl to Mexico. (Read more Tad Cummins stories.)