Reality TV dad pleads guilty to child rape in Tennessee

Toby Willis (Source: WKRN )

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN/AP) – The father of reality TV’s “The Willis Family” has pleaded guilty to four counts of child rape.

News outlets report 47-year-old Toby Willis entered his plea Tuesday in Cheatham County Circuit Court and will spend a total of 40 years in jail.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation began investigating Willis, on Aug. 29, 2016, about an alleged sexual encounter he had with an underage girl more than a decade ago.

Toby Willis (Courtesy: Cheatham County Jail Administrator)

He was then taken into custody Sept. 9.

Willis, his wife, Brenda, and their 12 children performed Irish-inspired roots music as the Willis Clan, advancing to the quarter-finals of “America’s Got Talent,” and starring in a since-cancelled TLC show for two seasons.

Willis and his family were stars of the hit TLC reality show, “The Willis Family.” It followed the singing group, which consists of 12 children, as they performed around the country.

The Willis family released a statement through their attorney Tuesday afternoon, which said in part, “The Willis family would like to thank their family, friends, and fans for the outpouring of love and support during this most difficult year… The family has remained fully cooperative throughout the investigation. 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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