A former Costa Mesa child molester who was due to be released from prison will be arrested on a federal warrant out of Palm Beach, Fla., prosecutors said today, as they released a videotape made by one of his victims.
George Joseph England is expected to be arrested in connection with child pornography and the Mann Act, which prohibits transporting people over state lines for sex and includes protections for the exploitation of children, said Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.
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.
In a videotape shown by prosecutors today, Zudis publicly acknowledged for the first time that England sexually assaulted her for years.
Rackaukas was nearing the end of a news conference he had called to warn the public about England's impending release when his spokeswoman, Susan Kang Schroeder, handed him a note with the news that England was wanted in Florida.
"We just got off the phone with the FBI in West Palm Beach and they're telling us they have an arrest warrant and will file charges against him," Rackauckas said. "This is great news."
Immigration and Customs Enforcement already had a hold on England because there's some question about whether he's a Canadian citizen or not. But now he will be taken to Florida after he is released from Corcoran State Prison.
England was convicted in 1977 of sexually assaulting three girls but went on the lam for 29 years. He was due to be released from prison Friday after serving just three years for his crimes, according to prosecutors. He was denied parole in September but served out the rest of his sentence.
Rackauckas blasted California Department of Mental Health officials who determined England was fit to be released. Orange County prosecutors had been trying to get him indefinitely committed to a mental institution.
Orange County prosecutors were also working with the FBI in Florida, where England lived for many years as a fugitive under an alias, to see if he could be charged in federal court with the alleged sexual assaults on Zudis.
Schroeder said earlier that England continues to deny molesting the girls, shows no remorse and refuses therapy.
As part of his news conference, Rackaukas showed a 45-minute video in which Zudis related how England paid her family to "adopt" her from Vietnam in 1972, when she was 5, then sexually assaulted her for 11 years.
England avoided prosecution regarding Zudis because the statute of limitations had run out before she told authorities about the abuse, Schroeder said.
From Vietnam, where he had been a civilian contractor, England and the girl moved to Costa Mesa, where he forced her to have sex with him several times a week and gave her alcohol starting when she was 7, Schroeder said.
He encouraged the girl to invite friends over, used a bathroom peephole to spy on them and installed a camera near the bathtub to take pictures, she said.
England molested several other young girls while living in Costa Mesa in the 1970s, but most of the attacks weren't reported to authorities, Schroeder said.
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 England would go after her younger sister, Schroeder said.
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. He also told Zudis she was too old to be adopted and that he was the only one who could protect her, 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 29 years as a fugitive, moving around the nation before settling in Florida and using the identity of a boy who died when he was 11 months old in Santa Barbara, according to Schroeder.
England, meanwhile, continued to molest Zudis and even forced her to have sex with dogs, Schroeder and Zudis said.
Zudis became pregnant six to eight times and England made her get abortions. The first time she got pregnant she was 13 years old in the seventh grade and the pregnancy was discovered too late for an abortion, Zudis 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.
He 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 in May 2005, the State Department discovered he was living under an assumed identity, Schroeder said.
Zudis told a neighbor who was an FBI agent about the abuse, and federal authorities arrested England in Florida in May 2005, Schroeder said.
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.
After that, he was sent to Orange County to be sentenced for the 1977 sexual assaults.