Reality TV star from Chicago charged with child rape, held in Kentucky jail

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Toby Willis was charged with child rape and held in a Kentucky jail, the I-Team has learned. (WLS)

Toby Willis is known as the head of the country music family, the Willis Clan.

However, 22 years ago, the South Sider became known in Chicago when he lost six of his siblings in a fiery highway crash, which exposed a bribes-for-licenses corruption scandal involving Illinois Gov. George Ryan. The case changed the course of Illinois politics.

Now, Willis himself is in legal trouble. He was charged with child rape and held in a Kentucky jail, the I-Team has learned.

The Willis Clan, led by Willis, is a country-Christian band, well known for their behind-the-scenes family reality show on TLC, which featured his wife and 12 children.

In 1994, Willis' siblings were incinerated in a horrific van crash on Interstate 94. His parents were the only survivors. As the I-Team uncovered, a truck driver involved in the crash was unqualified and paid bribes to get his commercial driver's license.

Seventy-five people, including Gov. Ryan, was convicted and the Willis family received $100 million in wrongful death settlements -- some of which was seed money for the family band.

The Willis family's tragedy is prominently featured in their public persona.

In a recent Facebook live video, Willis mentions the calamities his family has endured:

Toby Willis: "We got hit with the tornado, and fortunately we live in what they call a holler and the tornado jumped over."
Wife: "It sounds like you're complaining',"
Toby: "And then of course there was the car accident with my family."

On Aug. 29, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation officials said they started looking into a sexual encounter that Willis allegedly had 12 years ago with an underage girl.

A few days later, an arrest warrant was issued for him.

On Friday in Greenville, Ky., just before the family clan was to perform a concert, Willis was arrested on a child rape charge.

On Monday, he was being held in a county jailhouse and denied bond, waiving extradition to Tennessee to face the charge that, so far, authorities have not explained in any detail.

The Willis reality show was canceled in May, but TLC officials said they are shocked by the charges.

The family is in the middle of a busy concert tour.

All of the band's social media accounts have been taken down, and no one has commented.

Rev. Scott Willis, his father who was driving the van involved in the crash in 1994, could not be reached for comment.


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