Balyo: ‘I knew it was wrong’


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Former Grand Rapids Christian radio host John Balyo is headed to prison after entering a guilty plea in federal court on two charges involving child pornography and sexually assaulting a child.

Balyo, 34, was very soft-spoken and to the point when he spoke in court Tuesday morning, replying “Yes, your honor,” and “No, your honor” when questioned by the judge.

When explaining his actions that led to the charges, Balyo, who also faces state charges in a separate case in Calhoun County, showed no emotion.

Balyo admitted to meeting with another man and a 12-year-old boy in a Kalamazoo hotel room in April. The men sexually assaulted the boy, who was paid cash by Balyo.

Balyo said he took pictures during the sexual assault with an iPhone and a camera, and then put six of those images on his computer.

Federal authorities said he concealed the computer, along with other items, by giving them to an acquaintance, who turned them over to police after seeing news reports on the case. In addition to the six images from the April assault, investigators also found three other images of child pornography on the computer.

“I knew it was wrong,” Balyo said at one point during Tuesday’s court proceedings.

Balyo will face between 15 and 50 years in prison for the federal crimes. He is expected to be sentenced in November.

Tuesday, Balyo’s defense attorney, David Dodge, released the following statement on his client’s behalf:

“John Balyo is completely remorseful and is taking every step to reduce the trauma and misery of people having to come to court. (Balyo) is proactively resolving this … with full acceptance of responsibility.”

U.S. Attorney Pat Miles said he wasn’t surprised that Balyo agreed to plead guilty. Had he not taken a deal, he could have faced more charges.

“I was very pleased by his plea and that this federal case has moved quickly. It will save a lot of resources,” Miles said.

He hopes the case demonstrates to predators that assault have serious consequences.

“We continue to try to get the message out that these are not victimless crimes; there are real children that are being abused. They’re stealing their childhood, stealing their innocence,” Miles said. “It’s just awful to take advantage and exploit kids and that’s why the federal penalty are very severe.”

Authorities said Balyo’s case is part of Project Safe Childhood, which is a national effort to keep children safe from sexual abuse and exploitation.

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***Editor’s note: 24 Hour News 8 was originally given an age of 35 for Balyo. However, court records show he is 34. A correction has been made to this story.

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