Toby Willis, former star of TLC’s The Willis Family, was arraigned on four counts of child rape Monday, March 13, Ashland City Circuit Court clerk Julie Hibbs told The Tennessean. The reality star pleaded not guilty to the charges, and his trial will begin July 18, according to the newspaper. Find out more in the video above, and detailed below.
As previously reported, Willis was arrested back in September and charged with one count of child rape after an alleged sexual encounter with an underage girl approximately 12 years ago. He was arrested in Greenville, Kentucky, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation claimed the Nashville native traveled there to avoid police.
At the time, Toby’s wife, Brenda, released a statement saying her main focus was on the couple’s 12 children. “I was shocked and devastated by the revelation of events leading to Toby Willis’ arrest,” she said in the statement via Fox News. “As these are very trying times for the Willis family, I kindly ask all to respect our family’s privacy. As a mother of 12, my first priority remains with my children and helping them through this traumatic event.”
The Willis family’s TLC show premiered in May 2015 and ended in April 2016 after two seasons. The show followed Toby, Brenda and their 12 children (eight girls and four boys, ages 6 to 24), whose names all start with a J. The musical family first found fame when they made it to the quarterfinals of America’s Got Talent season 9.
“TLC did not renew The Willis Family, and new episodes have not aired since April 2016,” the network said in a statement to Us Weekly in September. “We are shocked to hear this news.”
A source told Us in September that the family was told about the show’s cancelation in May. “It didn’t do well in the ratings,” the source said. “The network does extensive background checks but found no issues with Toby.”
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