Former TLC star Toby Willis has been sentenced to 40 years in prison after pleading guilty on Tuesday, July 11, to four counts of child rape. According to The Tennessean, the former reality star was sentenced to two 25-year sentences on two counts and two 40-year sentences on the other two. The sentences will be served concurrently, resulting in a total of 40 years.
The 47-year-old has been behind bars at the Cheatham County jail since being arrested and charged last September with the rape of a young girl following a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation case was opened involving the rape of a 9 to 12-year-old girl about 12 years ago. Willis was arrested in Greenville, Kentucky, after hitchhiking there to evade the arrest.
Willis, his wife Brenda, and their 12 children performed Irish-inspired roots music and were discovered on America’s Got Talent in 2014 prior to landing their TLC reality show in 2015. The series was canceled after two seasons. According to a TLC spokesperson at the time, the network decided to cancel the series prior to the arrest.
“The Willis family would like to thank their family, friends and fans for the outpouring of love and support during this most difficult year,” family attorney Bill Speek said in a statement on their behalf to The Tennessean on Tuesday. “Additionally, the Willis family would like to thank the many members of law enforcement for their detailed and comprehensive investigation of this matter. Finally, the family would like to thank the District Attorney’s office for their diligence and sensitivity in the handling of this case. The family has remained fully cooperative throughout the investigation. Although the criminal case has concluded with Toby Willis receiving 40 years for the crimes he committed, the impact on the victims will remain much longer. The family is appreciative and grateful that people have respected their need for privacy during this trying time and asks for continued respect as they seek to move forward.”
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