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Officials: Reality TV dad arrested on child rape charge

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Officials say the father of reality TV’s “The Willis Family” has been arrested and charged in a child rape investigation.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says in a news release that agents arrested Toby Willis of Ashland City on Friday in Greenville, Kentucky, where he had gone to avoid officers.

The release says the 46-year-old was charged with one count of rape of a child and was being held without bond on a fugitive from justice warrant. It was not known whether he has a lawyer who could comment on the case.

The TBI says an investigation that began Aug. 29 found information that Willis, who is originally from Chicago, had a sexual encounter with an underage female about 12 years ago. The family’s TLC reality show focuses on their musical group, which includes 12 Willis children.

“TLC did not renew The Willis Family and new episodes have not aired since April 2016,” TLC said in a statement released to CBS affiliate WTVF. “We are shocked to hear this news.”

TBI officials believe Willis hitchhiked sometime between Sept. 5 and Sept. 6 from Shepherdsville, Kentucky, just south of Louisville, to Greenville, about 115 miles away. Agents believe two people gave him a ride, and they are asking the drivers come forward.

Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-TBI-FIND.