• Convicted rapist released from prison after winning appeal


    ORLANDO, Fla. - A man who called himself an Internet preacher and was originally sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2006 is getting out of jail because of old sentencing guidelines.

    Charles Balfe, 68, served a little more than nine years for the crime, and must complete a year of probation for raping a teenage girl.

    "To the victim and the family, it probably is not fair," said former prosecutor David Damore.

    Damore, however, believes it is fair under the law before it changed in 1998.  Balfe committed his crimes in 1993, which was brought up in his appeal process. Balfe won the appeal, which reduced his sentence.

    "He should have been sentenced under the 1993 sentencing guidelines and whether those were too lenient or too harsh, that's a matter of opinion,” said Damore.

    In 1993, Balfe faced a maximum of 16 years in prison for his crimes. He has been referred to as a self-proclaimed Internet preacher, and police said he used the Bible to convince the 15-year-old girl to have sex with him.

    Damore said the law changed to control judges who were handing down different sentences for the same crime across the state.

    However,  had Balfe been sentenced under the new guidelines, he likely would not be getting out of prison any time soon.

    "Under today's law, someone would be facing life in prison for the same offense this man was convicted of," said Damore.

    The Florida Department of Corrections could not say if Balfe has been released yet due to security reasons.

    But because he is listed as a sexual predator and he is on probation, he will be monitored.

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    Convicted rapist released from prison after winning appeal