February 10, 2006

Man faces up to 60 years for sex abuse

Orlando Sentinel

Tanya PeRez-Brennan | Sentinel Staff Writer
Posted February 10, 2006

DeLAND -- The courtroom remained in hushed silence Thursday except for the sounds of one woman's tears of relief as she heard the guilty verdict handed down to the man who had sexually molested her for years.

Charles Michael Balfe, 61, known as an Internet evangelist, was found guilty on both counts of sexual battery. The DeLand resident could face up to 60 years in prison, 30 years on each count, said Linda Pruitt, a spokeswoman for the State Attorney's Office.

Two other accusers say that as children they endured years of sexual abuse and physical beatings by Balfe in the late 1990s. Balfe will face two additional trials on those cases, according to officials. Two women also came forward and said they were sexually abused by him during the 1970s, but he will not face charges for those acts, according to the State Attorney's Office.

Before his arrest in April, Balfe ran a religious Web site as "a meeting place for fellowship with other Jesus Believers." He was also a regular at First Christian Church of DeLand. The three victims first came forward in March after one boy saw coverage of pop star Michael Jackson's trial and realized he had been abused.

Posted by kshaw at February 10, 2006 08:32 AM