GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Former Christian radio host John Richard Balyo said Tuesday that he and a second man handcuffed a 12-year-old boy to a motel bed, sexually abused him and took nine photos during the April encounter.
"I did take images of a child and they were sexually explicit involving bondage and nudity,'' Balyo admitted Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids. "I performed sex acts as described. I knew it was wrong.''
Balyo and Ronald Lee Moser paid the boy for his involvement in the April 19 assault. His hands and feet were handcuffed and he was tied to the bed, according to courtroom statements today.
While bound, Balyo took nine photos of the boy, first in his underwear and then naked.
The boy's family wept in the back of the sixth floor courtroom as details of the assault were told to Magistrate Ellen Carmody during Tuesday's plea hearing.
Balyo, 34, pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a child and possession of child pornography.Under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office, Balyo will testify if needed at Moser's criminal trial.
The 41-year-old Battle Creek man was indicted in June for the sexual exploitation of children. A federal trial for Moser is scheduled for Aug. 18 in Grand Rapids.
In exchange for Balyo's guilty plea, the U.S. Attorney's Office will not prosecute Balyo on additional violations coming out of the investigation. The government says it will not oppose Balyo's bid for a reduction in his sentence.
Balyo is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 6. He faces a minimum of 15 years in federal prison and up to 50 years on both counts. Sexual exploitation of a child is punishable by 15 to 30 years in prison, while possession of child pornography carries a maximum term of up to 20 years.
Balyo appeared in court dressed in an orange jumpsuit from the Calhoun County Jail. He's being held there on state charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving an 11-year-old boy in Battle Creek. Balyo will appear in a Battle Creek courtroom Aug. 11 in that case, which is separate from the federal case. First-degree criminal sexual conduct carries a maximum term of life in prison.
WCSG manager speaks out on the arrest of Christian radio show host John Balyo on first-degree criminal sex charges involving children. WZZM-TV, Grand Rapids, Mich.
The Kalamazoo County Prosecutor's Office also has the option of charging Balyo in connection with April 19 assault at the motel, although no state charges have been filed in that case.
"We are pleased that it did move so quickly,'' U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles said of the federal case.
"He could be in prison for the rest of his life depending on what happens down there,'' Miles said, referring to the felony case pending in Calhoun County.
Balyo, a WCSG radio host, was arrested in June at the Big Ticket Christian music festival in Gaylord, Michigan. Police say Balyo paid Moser to arrange sexual encounters with minors. When police searched Balyo's storage unit in Plainfield Township, they found a bondage kit complete with duct tape, handcuffs and chains.
Investigators say Moser ran a website offering paying customers sex with underage boys.
Moser had an online user name of JAYBOY33 and posted a message that read: "Looking for people in or around Michigan that r in to kids,'' federal court records show.
His online profile contained seven albums; titles include "sweet body,'' "sexy boys,'' "very cute boy'' and "sweet young.''
Investigators found images of a recently pubescent boy lying face down on a bed with his hands and feet bound and his buttocks exposed.
Moser admitted taking sexually explicit images of the 12-year-old boy for approximately a month, according to federal court records.