TLC Stars Who Have Been Sent To Prison

Founded in 1980, TLC was first known as The Learning Channel and made a name for itself by providing viewers with educational programming. However, after the Discovery Channel acquired TLC in the early 1990s, it evolved into a reality TV network. To this day, the TV shows on the channel are centered on large or unique families, romance, medical anomalies, and more. While TLC is not averse to drama by any means, much of its programming is family-friendly, focusing on unity and, at times, conservative values. 

Despite this, TLC has become infamous for its exploitative content and has been hit with various scandals throughout the years. From sexual abuse to assault and drug charges, a recurring pattern on the network is that many of its stars — such as Geoffrey Paschel, Josh Duggar, and others — have a criminal background or have gone on to become convicted felons. Some events transpired before their TLC debut, while in other cases, these individuals landed in legal hot water amid their success. Nevertheless, they all have one thing in common: they've done hard time. 

Toby Willis sexually abused a minor

Released in 2015, "The Willis Family" brought viewers into the lives of a musical household of 12 children raised by parents Toby and Brenda Willis. Before they were on TLC, the family, which performs as The Willis Clan, was on "America's Got Talent." In their series, the Willis family came off as a clean-cut Christian family. However, in 2016, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) arrested Toby for sexually abusing a child between the ages of 9 and 12, per The Tennessean. Before Toby was arrested, "The Willis Family," which ran for two seasons, was canceled by TLC.

Toby was subsequently charged with four counts of child rape. He pled guilty and received a 40-year prison sentence in July 2017. Shortly after, Toby's daughter, Jessica Willis Fisher, revealed she had been her father's victim. In 2022 Willis Fisher wrote "Unspeakable: Surviving My Childhood and Finding My Voice." In her memoir, Willis Fisher details the abuse she endured from her father and how she ultimately reported him to the TBI. In an interview with People, Willish Fisher told the publication that she decided against speaking at her father's sentencing. Instead, she noted, "This book is my witness statement."

Josh Duggar was jailed on child pornography charges

The ultra-religious Duggar family and their show, "19 Kids and Counting," was a TLC favorite for years. Their cookie-cutter image came crashing down in 2015 when it was revealed that in 2002, Josh Duggar, then a teenager, had molested his younger sisters, Jessa Duggar Seewald and Jill Duggar Dillard. USA Today reported that Josh later admitted on Facebook that these events had transpired. In 2015, Josh also sought treatment for pornography addiction. TLC subsequently axed "19 Kids and Counting." However, a Duggar spinoff, "Counting On," which did not feature Josh, was released that year. 

While Josh faced no legal repercussions for his actions, the worst was yet to come. In 2019, The Department of Homeland Security raided Josh's work after connecting his IP address to child pornography. Josh was arrested in 2021, which led to the cancellation of "Counting on." In 2022, he was convicted of receiving and sending child pornography. He received a 12.5-year prison sentence. Although he tried to appeal, Josh got bad news about his prison sentence; his appeal was denied in August 2023. That said, Josh won't be free until October 1, 2032. 

While his parents and wife have advocated for Josh's leniency, his cousin, Amy Duggar, disagrees. Speaking to the Daily Mail, Amy said she did not think Josh could be rehabilitated or that he should be released from prison. In 2023, Josh's scandal was documented in Amazon Prime's docuseries "Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets."

Geoffrey Paschel viciously assaulted an ex

Fans were introduced to Geoffrey Paschel in 2020 on Season 4 of "90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days." In the series, Paschel flies to Russia to meet Varya Malina, his online girlfriend. Throughout the season, the two had a rocky relationship, and at one point, Paschel disclosed to Malina that he had spent time in prison on drug charges. Their romance soured before Paschel returned to the States, and he moved on to his friend, Mary Wallace. Despite this, he and Malina got back together soon after. By the end of the season, Paschel had proposed, and Malina said yes.

However, what you didn't know about Paschel is that he had another fiancée, Kristen Wilson, before Malina. In June 2019, Pachel attacked Wilson. Per a statement released by the Knox County District Attorney's Office (via People), "Paschel grabbed the victim by the neck and slammed her head against the wall several times. She was also thrown to the ground and dragged."

Wilson was eventually able to get help, and in October 2021, Paschel was found guilty of domestic violence charges, including kidnapping and assault. In February 2022, he was sentenced to 18 years in prison without the possibility of parole. Malina has lived in the United States since 2020, and at the time of this publication, she and Paschel are still together. According to In Touch, Malina is dedicated to helping Paschel appeal his sentence.

Jorge Nava was caught with nearly 300 pounds of marijuana

In Season 4 of "90 Day Fiancé," fans met Jorga Nava and his Russian girlfriend, Anfisa Arkhipchenko. The pair's relationship was chaotic, to say the least, with Arkhipchenko being labeled as money hungry. In February 2018, Nava was driving from California to Arizona when he was arrested for having 297 pounds of marijuana in his SUV. Nava, who had a previous drug charge, was looking at years of jail time but ultimately received a plea deal.

In September of that year, he was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison. While he was incarcerated, Nava ended up losing over 120 pounds. Nava was released from prison in May 2020 and by then, his relationship with Arkhipchenko was over.  Per Oxygen, before his release, Nava appeared on "90 Day Fiancé: Self-Quarantined," where he alleged that Arkhipchenko had been unfaithful. He filed for divorce in August of that year.

In a 2021 episode of "90 Day Bares All," Nava discussed his time in prison and said (via Entertainment Tonight), "It's like one of those jaw-dropping moments. What am I gonna do in here for two years? And then, slowly but surely, you start to get used to prison life, it's really not that bad. It's bad because you're away from everybody in that sense, but it's really not, like, a dangerous place." Since becoming a free man, Nava tied the knot again. He shares two kids with his wife, Rhoda Blua.

Paul Staehle did time for arson

Paul Staehle is another "90 Day Fiancé" alum who has had trouble with the law. Staehle and his Brazilian girlfriend, Karine Staehle (then known as Karine Martins), first appeared on "90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days" in 2017. On the show, Paul dropped a bombshell on Karine when he told her he had a criminal record. Starcasm reported that Paul committed 2nd-degree arson in 2007 but was not convicted until 2014.

The publication notes that Paul did spend time behind bars, but the length of his sentence is unclear. He was also under supervision until April 2020. In addition, Starcasm states that Paul was arrested in 2013 for violating an emergency protective order and a domestic violence order.

Paul and Karine married in November 2017 and went on to have two sons, Pierre and Ethan. However, things have been tumultuous for the couple. Paul and Karine have split and reunited multiple times throughout their relationship. Karine filed two restraining orders against Paul in 2020 and 2021, both of which were later dropped. 

After various incidents and allegations of domestic abuse, the pair broke up and later lost custody of their children in 2022. At the time of this publication, Paul's cousin has custody of Pierre and Ethan. However, Paul and Karine are back together as of 2023 and are looking to regain custody of their children.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, may be the victim of child abuse, or has experienced a hate crime, contact the relevant resources below:

  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
  • The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.
  • The VictimConnect Hotline by phone at 1-855-4-VICTIM or by chat for more information or assistance in locating services to help. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.