Prosecutors: Man kept girl as sex slave in Palm Beach County and California

Date: 2010-03-11

By Eliot Kleinberg Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

George Joseph England bought a 5-year-old girl in Vietnam and kept her as a sex slave for more than a decade, authorities say.

He sexually assaulted three of her young friends.

He skipped out of sentencing and lived for years in Florida — including Palm Beach County — using the fake name of a dead baby.

And he kept raping the girl, as often as five times a week, impregnating her more than a half dozen times.

On Thursday, a Southern California prosecutor called a news conference to express his disgust that England, the beneficiary of more lenient 1970s sentencing standards, was about to walk out of prison.

But an aide pulled Orange County, Calif., District Attorney Tony Rackauckas aside to say that wasn't going to happen.

California prosecutors said the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's office were filing an arrest warrant Thursday in Palm Beach County for crimes England allegedly committed against Jackie Zudis in Florida.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for South Florida confirmed at midday Friday that George had formally been indicted and details will be forthcoming later today.

England, now 65, is accused of buying Zudis from her mother in Vietnam in the early 1970s. He claimed her as his adopted daughter.

England never was charged because Zudis because never reported him until she was an adult, long after California's statute of limitations had expired.

She has waived her right to anonymity under California privacy laws to protect sexual assault victims "to publicize the crimes committed against her by England and the danger he poses to society," the district attorney's office said.

On Oct. 21, 1977, England was convicted in California of three felony counts of child molestation.

Three of Zudis' young friends said England had sexually assaulted them when they spent the night at his house after Zudis had fallen asleep.

England persuaded a judge to let him remain free to settle his affairs before sentencing. He then removed Zudis from protective custody and fled, prosecutors said.

Over the next year, the California authorities said, England moved with Zudis throughout the United States, finally settling in Florida.

He obtained a birth certificate, social security number, driver's license, and passport under the name of Stephen Arthur Seagoe, a child born a year after him but who died at 11 months in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Records show addresses for him in Palm Beach Gardens in 1988 and in Riviera Beach dating back to 1993, as well as in Key West and Fort Lauderdale.

He impregnated her between six and eight times. All ended in abortions except the first one, which he discovered too far along. The baby boy was put up for adoption.

In 1988, when Zudis was 21, she married and moved out of England's home. She has not been in contact with him since 1995.

Federal authorities caught up with England in Fort Lauderdale in May 2005, and he went to federal prison, then was returned to California for the 1977 conviction. But under the 1977 laws, the most time he would serve was six years.If convicted of the same crimes today, he would face 45 years to life.

England was set to be released Friday from Corcoran State Prison in central California.

"I have been dealing with the consequences of this monster's lewd acts for over 30 years," one victim wrote California prison officials last year. "(He) has not even acknowledged the wrongfulness of his victimization. ."

Rackauckas said federal officials had been considering deporting England to Canada, where he claims to be a citizen, before learning of the Florida charges.

"This man spent a lifetime using young girls for his own perverse sexual gratification and never showing any remorse for the emotional and psychological baggage he left his victims to carry. I am sickened that my Office has been denied legal recourse to keep this child molester locked up away from children," Rackauckas said in a statement.

"Had he been convicted under the law today, England would be spending the rest of his life in prison. That's where he belongs, not on our streets and in our neighborhoods."

Staff writer Michael LaForgia contributed to this story.

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