Christian radio host sentenced to 40 years for child sex abuse

Calhoun County JailJohn Balyo

A judge branded the actions of Christian radio host John Balyo "filthy [and] obscene" yesterday, and handed him a 40 year sentence for sexually exploiting a minor as well as possessing child pornography.

Balyo, a former morning host at WCSG, a Christian station operated by Cornerstone University in Michigan, was accused of leading a "double life".

In court on Thursday, Judge Robert Holmes Bell, father of pastor and author Rob Bell, said: "I'm having a lot of trouble trying to reconcile two people in the orange jumpsuit before me.

"There's the Christian man with a reputation as a value-driven individual. But there is something else going on that is troubling...filthy, obscene. I don't get it. I don't get where you went off."

Prosecutor Assistant US Attorney Tessa K Hessmiller accused Balyo of being a "wolf in sheep's clothing" in a sentencing memorandum.

"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, creating and accumulating pedophilic materials, rehearsing a sexual kidnapping fantasy with a gun and a child-sized mannequin and meeting clandestinely in hotel rooms with young boys in bondage," Hessmiller continued.

"Balyo's three meetings with (victim 1) resulted in sexual exploitation and degradation of a child in the most depraved ways.''

Balyo, 35, is already serving a 25-50 year prison sentence for first degree criminal sexual conduct, for sexually assaulting the same child in May 2013, just two weeks after his wedding. His pregnant wife was granted a divorce three weeks ago.

The former radio personality was first arrested at the Big Ticket Festival, a large Christian music event, in June. Police found pornographic images of children and a bondage kit among his possessions, and accused Balyo of paying a man to arrange a sexual encounter with a minor.

He pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a child and child pornography possession charges in July.

"I performed a sexual act as described and I knowingly possessed the images on my camera," Balyo told US Magistrate Judge Ellen Carmody, adding that he "knew it was wrong."

He also admitted to restraining a 12-year-old boy and photographing the child naked while they were in a Michigan hotel room in April.

Balyo was fired from his Christian radio job after news of his arrest broke. WCSG General Manager Chris Lemke said the station was "shocked and deeply saddened" by the news.

"We trust in a God who is just and sovereign and will see us through this difficult time," he said a statement.

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