Government, Human Resources, and Law

Judge sentences ex-radio host to prison

December 12, 2014
| By AP |
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A former host at a popular Christian radio station, described by prosecutors as a man "living a double life," was sentenced to federal prison for the sexual exploitation of a child and child pornography.

The punishment of 40 years for John Balyo follows a recent 25-year sentence in state court for sexually assaulting a boy in Calhoun County. The sentences will run at the same time.

Balyo, 35, a former host at WCSG radio in Grand Rapids, was arrested in June at a Christian music festival in northern Michigan. Investigators found a storage unit with child pornography and a bondage kit.

U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell, the father of prominent pastor Rob Bell, said he was baffled by Balyo's "repulsive" acts when compared to his reputation as a caring Christian.

"I'm trying to figure out which one I'm sitting in front of right now," Bell said.

He told Balyo to "peel back layers of your own heart and your own soul" while in prison to figure out what happened. Bell wants at least one letter from him each year reporting what he's doing to help others.

Defense attorney David Dodge said Balyo is deeply remorseful.

In the storage unit, he kept a collection of children's obituaries and articles about a serial killer. The bondage kit held duct tape, handcuffs and rope.

"Balyo operated under the radar, living a double life," Assistant U.S. Attorney Tessa Hessmiller said. "On the outside, he was a law abiding, charitable, upstanding citizen. He was able to gain people's trust, leading no one to suspect anything was amiss. But underneath the surface, he was feeding a morbid and sadistic fascination with children."

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