The Christian community in Western Michigan is left shocked after a popular Michigan Christian radio host was arrested on child-sex charges.
Authorities say John Balyo, 35, was arrested Friday morning at a Christian music festival near Gaylord, Michigan.
Balyo, who was the morning host on Cornerstone University based WCSG Radio, was accused of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, USA Today reports.
According to authorities, Balyo, who is recently married, was a client of 41-year-old Ronald Lee Moser of Battle Creek, Mich., who ran a website offering paying customers sex with underage boys.
On Saturday, Cornerstone University released a statement saying: "Effective today, John Balyo is no longer affiliated with WCSG Radio." WCSG, Grand Rapids' Family Christian Radio station, is affiliated with Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids.
Following his arrest, WCSG's general manager, Chris Lemke, issued a statement saying Balyo was "put on indefinite paid administrative leave pending further investigation and the legal process." Lemke also said they were "shocked and deeply saddened to learn" of Balyo's arrest.
On Monday, Lemke urged listeners to pray for former host John Balyo, his family, co-workers and alleged victims, M-Live reports.
"You, God, are the great healer," he prayed. "Heal them up. We pray for them. We pray for John. We pray for his bride and new stepson," he said, "Most importantly, please pray for the victims of the allegations."
Lemke said many are in shock by the allegations.
"We can't make sense of this. ... Did you ever have any doubt Satan was loose?"
However, Lemke says that the staff, while devastated, are placing their hope in God.
"God's people will not lose heart," Lemke told listeners. "And, we know you may be hurting as well," Lemke told listeners, "Yet, we have hope."
He said that a listener outpouring of support, in text messages and emails to the station, have sustained Balyo's co-workers, who were in disbelief after hearing the allegations.
Lemke said the station will continue to offer a "Christian-centered influence" both locally and nationwide via the Internet, Lemke said.
The investigation was performed under Homeland Security Investigations' Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators.
According to a news release from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Balyo was arrested after an investigation by the agency's Homeland Security Investigations and the Michigan State Police Internet Crimes Against Children.
The Customs release reveals that Homeland Security Investigations "has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children," since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003.
Balyo is accused of being a customer, said Chris Johnson, a Cooley Law School professor and human trafficking expert.
"I think the terminology would be a 'John' - that in itself is not going to be human trafficking," said Johnson. "The person he went to in order to secure the child would be the one who would be guilty of human trafficking."
"Many times when you do have a brothel that's raided, you do end up finding child victims, unfortunately, that are involved in the commercial sex trade. ... According to the Department of Justice, the average age a person enters prostitution in the United States is between the age of 11 and 13 years old, so there is quite a prevalence of people who have sexual appetites with children," he continued.