Yet another Southern TLC reality show family is being rocked by a sexual assault scandal involving a minor as The Willis Family dad Toby Willis has been arrested and charged with the rape of a child.
Toby Willis was arrested in Greenville, Kentucky on Friday after he allegedly fled from his home state of Tennessee in an attempt to avoid being arrested. Toby has been charged with one count of Rape of a Child stemming from an incident involving an underage female approximately 12 years ago.
From the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation:
At the request of 23rd District Attorney General Ray Crouch, TBI Agents began investigating Toby Nathaniel Willis (DOB 4-29-70) on August 29th. During the course of the investigation, Agents developed information Willis had a sexual encounter approximately 12 years ago with an underage female. The investigation into Willis remains active and ongoing.
Toby Willis and his musical family of 14, who perform as The Willis Clan, first gained national attention when they competed on the 9th season of America’s Got Talent and made it all the way to the quarter finals. They were later approached by TLC and starred in the network’s reality show The Willis Family for two seasons.
The family was able to focus on their musical endeavors due in part to a tragedy in Toby’s past as he and the surviving members of his family were awarded a large settlement stemming from an accident that killed six of his eight siblings.
Here is a throwback photo of Toby Willis, his wife Brenda Willis, and the rest of their still-growing family at the time:
TLC has already deleted The Willis Family show from their website. TMZ spoke with a source close to the show that reveals the network had already planned on canceling the series prior to Toby’s arrest:
Sources close to the show tell us the family was informed in May by TLC it wouldn’t be picked up for a third season. We’re also told the network did extensive background checks on Toby and his family but nothing raised any red flags. A rep for the networks tells us they haven’t aired an episode of the show since April and they are, “shocked to hear the news.”
The Willis Family scandal comes in the wake of Josh Duggar’s molestation scandal and subsequent cancelation of 19 Kids and Counting (although the Duggars would sneak back on the network without Josh with Counting On), and the cancellation of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo after Mama June’s continued association with an ex that was found guilty of molesting her oldest daughter Anna.