Former TLC Star Pleads Guilty to Child Rape and Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison

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The head of the former TLC reality show The Willis Family is headed to jail for a very long time.

Toby Willis, a father of 12 kids who made up The Willis Clan, an Irish inspired musical group, plead guilty to four counts of child rape and will be spending 40 years behind bars.

The former reality star pleaded guilty on Tuesday, July 11 to four counts of child rape in a Cheatham County court.

According to The Tennessean, Willis has been sentenced to 25 years on two of the charges and 40 years on the other two. Willis will reportedly serve his sentences concurrently, meaning he will serve 40 years total in prison.

According to PEOPLE, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation began looking in to Willis as possibly having a connection with the sexual abuse of a minor girl that had allegedly happened 12 years prior.

Willis and his wife Brenda’s 12 kids all performed as part of the family music group The Willis Clan and made it to the quarterfinals of season 9 of America’s Got Talent, in 2014.

After that brush with fame, the family started their own reality show on TLC called The Willis Family.

Willis was arrested in September last year and the network announced just days later the show would not be renewed for a third season, although they stated the decision not to renew had been made prior to Willis’s arrest.

Brenda Willis released a statement on behalf of herself and her family through her attorney, The Tennessean reported, thanking friends and family for their support.

The Willis family would like to thank their family, friends and fans for the outpouring of love and support during this most difficult year. 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.”

The Tennessean reports the rape, which happened about 12 years ago, involved a girl who was between the ages of 9 and 12 at the time.

While thanking people for their support in their statement, the Willis family also acknowledges the pain that the victim is suffering and asks for privacy.

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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