The Willis Family
“The Willis Family” star Toby Willis was sentenced to 40-year of imprisonment after pleading guilty to four counts of rape. TLC

Former TLC star Toby Willis pleaded guilty to child rape.

Willis was the patriarch of TLC’s former reality show “The Willis Family.” On Tuesday, he pleaded guilty to four counts of rape and was sentenced to 40 years of imprisonment, People reported.

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Julie Hibbs, the circuit court clerk in Cheatham County, Tennessee explained that Willis received a 25-year sentence for two counts of rape and 40-year sentence for the other two counts. The four sentences will run concurrently and will be served in their entirety. So, Willis will only be in prison for 40 years.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation started investigating Willis, 47, in August 2016 for sexual abuse involving an underage girl. The incident happened 12 years earlier when the girl was only between 9 and 12 years old.

Willis left his home in Ashland City to escape the law enforcement. He fled to Greenville Kentucky but was arrested on Sept. 9, 2016. He was initially charged with one count of rape, but three counts were added earlier this year, Billboard reported.

Willis and his family traveled around the country as a singing group. Aside from Willis and wife Brenda, their 12 children ages 5 to 24 sang and danced. They were popularly known as The Willis Clan. They catapulted to fame after reaching the quarter-finals of “America’s Got Talent” Season 9. Their series on TLC aired for two seasons and concluded in April 2016.

The Willis Clan already released a statement about the sentences and thanked their fans for “the outpouring of love and support during this most difficult year.” They were also grateful for the District Attorney’s office for its diligence and sensitivity in handling the case.

“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,” the statement read.

Meanwhile, Willis’ rape case is the third sex scandal that plagued TLC. In 2014, the network first canceled “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” after Mama June rekindled a romance with a convicted sex offender. In 2015, it axed “19 Kids and Counting” following Josh Duggar’s molestation scandal.

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