Former TLC Star Arrested On Child Rape Charges


TLC really hasn't had a great track record with signing on reality TV stars. Just today, in fact, news broke that a former TLC star has been arrested on child rape charges. That reality TV person is none other than Toby Willis, the father of The Willis Clan, a country music group and variety act that has appeared on the network in their own series. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents arrested the man in Greenville, Kentucky, after he had fled from police.

In a statement, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) noted that they had been investigating Toby Willis since the end of August. During the investigation, the investigation team discovered he had had sex with an underage girl 12 years ago. He then fled his home in Ashland City, Tennessee in order to avoid getting arrested. Eventually, police caught up with the man and he was arrested on September 9.

While not as prominent as the Duggar or Thompson clan on TLC, Toby Willis, his wife Brenda and their 12 children---yes 12---rose to fame on NBC's America's Got Talent, where it was revealed Toby is the son of Pastor Duane Scott and Janet Willis, who won a settlement related to Governor Gov. George Ryan's "Operation Safe Road" scandal. In the time following the appearance on the talent series, TLC snapped the clan up and gave them their own series called The Willis Family. The show has aired on TLC for the last couple of seasons, and wrapped up its second season on April 19. TLC now says the show was actually cancelled in May. Here's the statement from a source, per Yahoo.

The family was alerted of the cancellation back in May 2016. The network performed extensive background checks on all the family and found no issues.

The Willis clan has also made several other TV appearances.

The news doesn't bode very well for TLC, which has already tried to distance itself from what happened in the wake of Toby Willis' arrest. The network has dealt with some troubling allegations in recent years, from Here Comes Honey Boo Boo matriarch Mama June Thompson reportedly shacking up with the man who molested her daughter years ago to Duggar clan member Josh Duggar dealing with his own issues with molestation. This has led to advertising problems with the network, as well as bad word of mouth. These issues have made the Jon Gosselin gossip look positively tame in comparison.

Toby Willis' arrest comes as part of an "ongoing child rape investigation," according to Tennessee police. The former reality TV star is currently being held in Muhlenberg County Jail and will eventually be shifted to Cheatham County. The TBI says he will be held without bond. We'll keep you updated as this story unfolds, but like all court cases, it could be a bit before more details emerge.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.