An unexpected development in the Toby Willis rape case saw the disgraced former reality TV star charged with four counts of child rape in a Tennessee courthouse this week. Willis’ trial had been postponed five times since his arrest last September; most recently, his attorney asked for more time for Willis to undergo a mental health evaluation. Michael Shipman, who had been representing Willis, said that recent conversations with his client left him questioning Willis’ mental state.
However, according to The Tennessean, state prosecutors decided to circumvent the scheduled May 31 hearing by presenting their findings to a grand jury. Shipman “was not present at the arraignment”; instead, Willis was represented by a public defender.
The four Toby Willis rape charges were read by Circuit Judge Larry Wallace, Willis pleaded not guilty. His plea date is July 11, and his trial is now officially scheduled to begin on July 18.
Willis is accused of raping a nine- to twelve-year-old girl–allegedly a family member, though accounts seem to differ on this point–in 2002. An anonymous tip alerted the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in August of 2016, and the TBI had enough evidence to arrest Willis by early September. But Willis fled to Kentucky, where he was captured by local police before being extradited back to Tennessee.
(Photo credits: Toby Willis rape charges via Cheatham County PD)