SANTA ANA (CBS) — A former Costa Mesa man was convicted of taking a 4-year-old girl he said he adopted in Vietnam to California and then to Florida to sexually assault her for years, prosecutors in Florida said Thursday.
George Joseph England, 66, of Fort Lauderdale, was convicted Wednesday on three counts of enticement of a minor and two counts of transportation of a minor from Asia to California in 1974 and from California to Florida in 1977 to engage in sex acts with the girl, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Officer in Miami.
England faces up to 30 years in prison when he is scheduled to be sentenced March 24.
England was convicted in 1977 of sexually assaulting three girls in Costa Mesa, but he fled with the then-10-year-old girl and was on the lam for 29 years before being caught in Florida in 2005.
England was scheduled to be released from prison last March after serving three years, but the victim, Jackie Zudis, told authorities that England sexually assaulted her for years, leading federal prosecutors in Florida to charge him there.
England met Zudis in Vietnam when she was 4 years old in the early 1970s, according to evidence presented at trial. From there, the two went to Thailand and India where they lived for two years and he repeatedly had sex with her.
Florida prosecutors said he warned her to never trust police and that she would be forced into prostitution without him.
England and Zudis came to Costa Mesa about 1974 and lived there for three years. England carried on a sexual relationship with the victim in Costa Mesa and encouraged her to invite her friends to sleepovers in their motor home.
England hid a camera in the bathroom to watch and take pictures of Zudis and her friends bathing.
After being convicted of molesting three of Zudis’ friends, he took her to northern California, where England got a birth certificate of a child who died at birth and lived under his identity.
While living in Ft. Lauderdale, England continued to have sex with the girl and got her pregnant when she was 13. Zudis gave birth in September 1981.
Zudis was impregnated by England several more times over the next four years, but he forced her to get abortions.
Soon after her last abortion in 1986, the victim threatened she would kill herself if England would not stop molesting her, prosecutors said.
Zudis got married in 1988 and moved out, and she stopped all contact with England in 1994.
Zudis told a neighbor who was an FBI agent about the abuse in 2004, and investigators were able to track him down with his alias.
“Yesterday’s guilty verdict brings to an end this international decades-long tragedy of child abuse and exploitation,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Wilfredo Ferrer. “Although nothing can restore a child’s lost innocence, we hope that the verdict will at least help heal deep wounds and provide victims of abuse with hope and trust in our justice system.”
John V. Gillies, FBI Special Agent in Charge in Miami, praised Zudis for stepping forward.
“George England adopted a helpless child so he could control and rape her at his whim,” Gillies said. “Despite the passage of time, it took incredible strength for the victim to come forward and share her ordeal.
Nothing can bring back her innocence, but the guilty verdict brings some justice to her and the other victims of England’s violent and unforgivable crimes.”
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