The courts have sentenced former reality star Toby Willis to 40 years behind bars after he pleaded guilty to child rape, as reported by PEOPLE.
Willis, the patriarch of TLC’s former reality show The Willis Family, pleaded guilty to four counts of the rape of an underage girl. The victim was between 9 and 12 at the time of the abuse, and the crimes were committed around 12 years ago, according to the Tennessean.
The 47-year-old even fled from law enforcement, hitchhiking to Kentucky, in order to avoid prosecution for the brutal rapes, as stated by PEOPLE. Police caught up to him and placed him behind bars in September of 2016, as reported by TMZ. He has remained in prison ever since.
His family, including his 12 children and his wife Brenda, are struggling to continue on with their lives after the brutal crimes committed by their patriarch.
“They are truly hurting, and trying to figure out how to carry on with their lives,” a family insider told PEOPLE.
The same family insider said Toby’s wife Brenda Willis is “a loving, sweet, generous, warm-hearted lady that is hurting and confused.”
The family’s attorney, Bill Speek, has released a statement on their behalf.
“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 statement read. “The family has remained fully cooperative throughout the investigation. 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.”
Willis and his family first came to prominence on the reality show America’s Got Talent, rising to the quarterfinals of season 9 of the hit program. Willis is also known for being involved in a horrific automobile accident in 1994, which took the lives of six of his brothers and sisters.
Cheatham County Circuit Court Clerk Julie Hibbs has stated that Willis received two 25-year sentences on two counts of child rape and two 40-year sentences on the other two counts. These sentences will be concurrent, and served at 100 percent, giving Willis a total of 40 years in prison.
[Featured Image: Muhlenberg County Detention Center]