The Christian wife of Tad Cummins, the former Tennessee teacher accused of kidnapping his 15-year-old student Elizabeth Thomas, has said she feels "betrayed" by her husband and is in the process of divorcing him on grounds of "cruel and inhuman treatment".
"It's very selfish of him to have done this to us," Jill Cummins told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Friday. "I do love him, but I don't trust him anymore. He's totally betrayed me."
Cummins, 50, remains in federal custody in California after he was arrested Thursday and the teen was recovered in Northern California following a month-long nationwide search.
The former teacher and youth pastor was charged with one federal count of transportation of a minor across state lines for the purpose of criminal sexual intercourse, said Jack Smith, acting US attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. The charge carries a minimum of 10 years.
He also faces state charges of sexual contact with a minor and aggravated kidnapping, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said last month.
According to the MailOnline, Jill Cummins, a grandmother and mother-of-two, spent the weekend being comforted by daughter Erika, 29, and son-in-law Blake, a Christian music producer. She filed for divorce several weeks ago, citing irreconcilable differences and alleging that her husband was "guilty of inappropriate marital conduct."
"It's kind of like a death because the Tad I knew is gone," she said.
Friends of the Cummins family expressed shock over the revelation, as both Tad and Jill Cummins were involved in their church, Destiny Church in Columbia, and frequently took the teen to worship with them.
"It just doesn't make sense," said the Cummins' neighbor, Freda Scott. "He was the nicest man. He'd walk down the street here in the neighborhood and say hello and invite people to his church. He and his wife would take that girl to church. His poor wife is devastated."
On Wednesday night, investigators received a tip that Thomas and Cummins were living in a remote cabin in Northern California, near Cecilville. The pair disappeared on March 13 and been the subject of an ongoing AMBER Alert before Cummins was arrested and Elizabeth was safely recovered. Authorities said Cummins searched online about teen marriage, and that he and Elizabeth had exchanged romantic messages using the draft folder of his email.
Siskiyou County, California, Sheriff Jon Lopey told People Magazine investigators found a single sleeping pad in the remote cabin where Cummins and Elizabeth were found and expressed doubt the teen had willingly gone with her former teacher.
"I don't think a 15-year-old is in a position to consent with a 50-year-old," he said. "I think she's a victim, and no matter what her thought process was, she's a victim and he's a sexual predator."
"Obviously she had opportunities to leave or escape," he added. "But he's a domineering figure, and they appeared to be operating together in an effort to remain undetected."
The teen was reunited with her family in Tennessee on Friday after Cummins' arrest and is currently residing at a "safe house".
"There is no doubt that she has suffered severe emotional trauma and that her process of recovery is only just beginning," Jason Whatley, the Thomas family's lawyer, said in a statement.