Convict facing federal charges

A convicted child molester from Costa Mesa is facing federal charges in Florida for allegedly crossing state lines with an underage girl to have sex with her and for allegedly possessing child pornography.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Miami on Thursday charged George Joseph England, 65, according to a federal criminal complaint released Friday. The new charges ensure that he won’t be released from prison, as was scheduled for Friday.

Instead, England will be transferred to a federal prison in Florida from Corcoran State Prison, near Fresno, where his three-year term on a previous conviction was set to expire Friday. He was serving out a 1977 conviction for molesting three girls.

Before he was sentenced that year, England fled California and was on the lam for 29 years before being arrested in Florida for passport fraud. He was sentenced in 2006 to three years to life in prison, based on sentencing guidelines from the 1970s, and was given credit for good behavior.

If England were sentenced by today’s standards, prosecutor said, he would receive a life sentence.

The latest federal charges stem from a statement given to the FBI last week by Jackie Zudis, whom England had called his daughter.

In the videotaped interview with the FBI, Zudis said England bought her from her mother in Vietnam in 1972, then took her to Costa Mesa at age 5. Zudis told the FBI that after England was convicted, they fled the state in the middle of the night on their way to Florida. She was 10 years old.

From 5 years old to 16, she claimed, England sexually abused her. The alleged abuse involved forced oral copulation, sexual intercourse, sodomy and bestiality, according to the criminal complaint. Federal statutes make it illegal to transport a person across state lines for illegal sexual activities.

Zudis got married when she was 21 and moved out of England’s Florida home. He was operating under a fake identity. In 2004, she contacted the FBI and told them England’s real identity and that he was a fugitive from California, the complaint said.

The next year, when England tried to renew his passport, he was arrested.

A search of his property, including his computer, turned up pictures of child pornography, prosecutors said. Some of the pictures were created in other countries and states, making it a federal crime when the images entered Florida.

Although Zudis and England fled to Florida more than 30 years ago, and the statute of limitations on the crimes expired, the statute of limitations does not apply because England was a fugitive, prosecutors said.

Orange County prosecutors said that, if convicted, England will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.

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