His success in prison sex offender programs and support by family members are key reasons inmate Lloyd Gerald Pond has received a release date of Feb. 2, 1999.

The decision by the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole cites Pond's overall "rehabilitative progress" as a factor in granting the convicted sex offender parole.Pond, 53 and the former host of an LDS Church public affairs program, had his first hearing last month on the second-degree felony count of forcible sexual abuse that landed him in prison in 1997.

Initially charged with first-degree felony sodomy, Pond pleaded guilty to the reduced charge stemming from an illicit relationship with a 14-year-old girl.

Authorities accused him of "grooming" the child to engage in increasingly erotic behavior that culminated when he tricked her to perform a sex act. Although 27 supporters of Pond attended the August hearing on his behalf, the victim had urged the board in a letter to keep the man incarcerated until she graduated from high school.