Costa Mesa child molester pleads not guilty in Miami

Date: 2010-04-28

By Staff, OCLNN
SANTA ANA — A man convicted of child molestation in Costa Mesa in 1977 pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Miami to new charges of taking his adopted daughter over state lines to have sex with her and possessing child pornography.

George Joseph England, 65, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Miami last month. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison on the child pornography charge, 10 years for coercion of a minor and five years each on the transportation and coercion charges.

England, who was convicted in 1977 of sexually assaulting three girls but then went on the lam for 29 years, had been due to be released from prison March 12 after serving about three years for the decades-old crimes, according to Orange County prosecutors.

England, who was denied parole last September, had said he planned to to move back to his native Canada upon his release.

England took Jackie Zudis from Vietnam in 1972, when she was about 5 years old, and molested her for 11 years, impregnating her multiple times, according to Orange County prosecutors and Zudis.

England had worked as a civilian contractor in Vietnam after being honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in 1966, Miami-based FBI Agent John J. MacVeigh said in court papers.

England avoided prosecution regarding Zudis because the statute of limitations had run out before she told authorities about the abuse, according to Orange County prosecutors.

MacVeigh, though, cited more recent laws regarding fugitives and sex crimes involving children and said the statute of limitations had not expired because England was on the lam.

Federal authorities began investigating Zudis’ claims in 2004 when she reported the alleged abuse to the FBI.

England was arrested in July 1977 on suspicion of molesting three girls between the ages of 9 and 10 after one girl told her mother about the attacks, fearing he would go after her younger sister, according to Orange County prosecutors.

While his trial was pending, England allegedly told his Vietnamese “daughter” that if he were convicted, she would end up with foster parents who would rape her or force her into prostitution.

England also told Zudis she was too old to be adopted and that he was the only one who could protect her, Orange County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Susan Kang Schroeder said.

The girl did not testify against him, but the three other girls did and he was convicted.

England fled with Zudis before his sentencing and spent nearly three decades as a fugitive, moving around the nation before settling in Florida and using the identity of Stephen Arthur Seagoe, a boy who died when he was 11 months old in Santa Barbara in 1947, according to Schroeder.

England, meanwhile, continued to molest Zudis and even forced her to have sex with dogs, Schroeder and Zudis said.

Zudis said she became pregnant six to eight times and England made her get abortions. The first time she became pregnant she was 13 years old in the seventh grade and the pregnancy was discovered too late for an abortion, she said.

England convinced a social worker that a boy had impregnated her after she got drunk at a party, and the baby boy was put up for adoption, Zudis said.

England continued having sex with her until she was 16 and threatened to kill herself. She got married at 21 and has not been in contact with him since 1995, Schroeder said.

England renewed his phony passport in 1997 and 2003, but on May 18, 2005, he was arrested after he tried to obtain a passport with the phony name.

England pleaded guilty in federal court to two counts of fraud and misuse of passports and other entry documents on Sept. 15, 2005, and was sentenced to 14 months in federal prison.

On May 27, 2005, federal agents learned England’s belongings were going to be removed from a storage unit and thrown out so they seized the items, including a computer that allegedly contained numerous images of child pornography, MacVeigh said.

England was sentenced to four consecutive life terms on the 1977 child molestation case, but his prison term was reduced after an appeal.

This story was written and edited by The City News Service.

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