Willis Family Rape Charge Update: Toby Willis Waives His Right To Preliminary Hearing
Fans of the Willis family were left in shock after the patriarch of the family-of-14 was arrested on charges of child rape. Father Toby Willis was arrested for allegedly raping a young family member 12-years-ago. The victim was reported a female between the ages of 9 and 12 at the time of the rape. As an adult, the victim has finally come forward, and it appears Toby isn’t going to fight the charges just yet. In fact, the reality star waived his rights to a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, which means the case will continue on to trial.
People Magazine notes that Toby Willis, his wife Brenda and their 12 children rose to fame after appearing on America’s Got Talent in Season 9. The 12 talented children ultimately made it to the quarterfinals before being cut. Despite not winning the talent show, the family was an immediately hit with fans and was selling booked out shows across the United States. The family was then offered a reality television series on the TLC network for two seasons called The Willis Family, which followed the family’s day-to-day life as rising music stars.
Toby Willis appears in Cheatham Co. court. https://t.co/StnFAmFh2q pic.twitter.com/9Rl0xpc5Mj
— NewsChannel 5 (@NC5) September 22, 2016
The family was outspoken about their Christian beliefs but were not as strict as the other TLC mega-family, the Duggars. The girls were not required to wear long skirts or follow strict courtship guidelines, but the family often talked about their spiritual beliefs and many of their songs were in the Christian folk genre.
However, the Willis family may have been harboring a dark secret. A secret that would bring the family’s musical careers crashing down. Father Toby Willis had allegedly raped a family member back in 2004. While police note the charges stem from a rape back in 2004, the court documents reveal the abuse began in 2002. Therefore, with the victim being noted as between the ages of 9 and 12 at the time of the rape, the victim would have been 7- to 10-years-old when the “grooming” or initial inappropriate behaviors began.
According to WKRN, police were alerted to the possibility of the rape charges on August 29 and quickly opened a case into the rape allegations. Police would uncover enough evidence to charge Toby Willis with child rape but Willis would flee on foot from Tennessee in an alleged bid to escape arrest. Toby reported hitchhiked sometime between September 5 and September 6 to Kentucky. However, police were able to located Toby Willis and bring him into custody.
Toby Willis’ wife releases statement after husband’s child rape charge https://t.co/6ODesWEkNM
— Nicky Biebeer (@NickyBiebeer) September 25, 2016
Since his arrest, Toby was behind bars in Kentucky before eventually being extradited back to Tennessee to face his charges. On Wednesday, Toby Willis was given the opportunity to appear in court before a judge for a preliminary hearing. However, Willis waived his right to the hearing and returned to jail. He is slated to return back to court on October 5 to hear the evidence against.
A preliminary hearing would have given Toby Willis the chance to be released from prison had a judge found there was no enough evidence to move forward with a trial. Therefore, it appears Willis either believes there is enough evidence in the case to prosecute, is following the advice of a lawyer who wants more time to prepare or is simply trying to keep the evidence out of court records until the last possible moment.
Meanwhile, Brenda Willis and her 12 children have stopped all musical tours. Brenda released a public statement about the incident in which she noted the family is cooperating fully with investigators. The rest of the Willis clan are reportedly leaning on each other for support. One Willis family member, eldest daughter Jessica Willis, abruptly quit the band in the months leading up to the rape allegations against Toby.
As the Inquisitr previously reported, Jessica Willis has been spending a lot of time with her boyfriend and stepped away from The Willis Clan as the lead singer earlier this year. Jessica’s absence from the band was immediately noticed by fans who questioned why Jessica would leave when the family’s band was so successful. For months, the Willis family simply ignored the questions until finally revealing Jessica was working on some solo projects and would no longer be appearing with the band.
Since her departure, Jessica has spent increasing amounts of time with her boyfriend and even dyed her hair a darker color. She frequently showed up in his photographs on Instagram and appeared to be enjoying her time away from the band.
What do you think about Toby Willis waiving his right to a preliminary hearing for the rape charges?
[Featured Image via Facebook/The Willis Family]