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It is about a four-hour drive east of Memphis to arrive in Culleoka. The small town is most widely known as where a high school teacher and a 15-year-old student began a cross-country journey that garnered nationwide attention last year. Fifty-one-year-old Tad Cummins has apparently changed his mind and agreed to plead guilty to two felony charges in the case, according to news reports.

Cummins cried in court after pleading guilty to a sex crime and an obstruction of justice charge in federal court in Nashville.

“I cannot be the man I need to be and not tell the truth,” the former forensics teacher said to the judge before he began weeping.

Cummins now faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in a federal prison for crossing state lines for sex with a minor. He faces two decades behind bars on the obstruction charge, news reports indicate. He will be sentenced later this year.

His former student was in court, but she did not speak. Prosecutors said that Cummins’ change of heart about pleading guilty means the girl “will no longer have to face a lengthy trial and can go about her life.”

Cummins was a married father and grandfather when he and the girl began to engage in sexual activity, a news report stated.

His wife filed for divorce during the hunt in March of 2017 for the pair. Since he was apprehended in April in a remote area of California, he has called to ask his wife’s forgiveness, an assistant U.S. Attorney told the court.

The caretaker of the northern California property contacted law enforcement about the pair. When police arrived, they found the girl safe.

Even when someone is guilty of a crime, a skilled criminal defense attorney can negotiate a favorable plea agreement in which the punishment is appropriate rather than excessive.