Tad Cummins
50-year-old Tad Cummins could face life in prison after being indicted by a federal jury on two charges, May 18, 2017. Reuters

Notorious high school teacher Tad Cummins appeared in federal court Monday for a hearing to set his trial date. Cummins, 50, was arrested in April after allegedly kidnapping his 15-year-old former student, Elizabeth Thomas.

A judge set Cummins’ trial date for April 17, 2018, according to WKRN-TV. It was previously set to begin in January, though the judge decided to push it back. Cummins faces federal charges for transporting a minor across state lines in addition to state charges of kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor.

During the appearance, Cummins’ lawyer told the judge he had concerns about widespread media coverage of the case. Brent Horst said he would file a motion on behalf of his client in that regard, though it would not have to do with switching the trial’s location and he did not give further details, WRCB-TV reported.

Tad Cummins and Elizabeth Thomas
Tad Cummins and Elizabeth Thomas, who disappeared March 13, are seen in this photo taken in January 2017. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation

Several of Cummins’ family members appeared at the trial Monday, according to WSMV. The April trial is expected to last five to seven days.

The case of Cummins and Elizabeth Thomas captured national attention after the pair vanished in March. The two were missing for 38 days before they were finally spotted in northern California, where authorities quickly arrested Cummins.

Much remained unclear about the nature of their disappearance even after they were located. After they vanished, authorities warned the public that the situation was “not a romance.”

“She is 15, a child. He is 50, a grown man,” Tennessee Bureau of Investigation director Mark Gwyn told reporters at the time. “She’s a high school freshman. He’s a former teacher. This is, and was, not a romance. This was manipulation solely to benefit Tad Cummins. This is not a fairy tale. This is a case of kidnapping.”

Elizabeth herself stayed mum about the situation until September, when she opened up to a reporter who spotted her at a local McDonalds.

“I don’t regret it, nor do I say that it was the right thing to do,” Thomas said. “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.”