A child molester convicted in Florida of buying a young Vietnamese girl in the early 1970s and abusing her as a sex slave from age 5 until she was a young adult was sentenced Friday to the maximum 30-year prison term.
Senior U.S. District Judge Jose A. Gonzalez cited the "horrendous nature" of the case to justify the sentence imposed on George Joseph England, 66, who in January was convicted of five sex abuse-related charges.
England was convicted in California in 1977 of molestation charges involving some of his victim's young friends, but fled to Florida with her before he was sentenced. They lived for decades under an assumed name taken from a dead child, until in 2004 the now adult victim decided to go to the FBI.
That victim, 43-year-old Jackie Zudis, called England pathetic during a sentencing hearing and said the abuse has caused her severe depression and struggles with alcohol.
"It was sick that you had to take a little girl for your own pleasure," Zudis said to England, who sat silently in a wheelchair, wearing blue prison garb. "Because of this degenerate, I don't know who I am."
The Associated Press typically does not identify victims of sex crimes, but Zudis has chosen to be identified publicly after being named for years in court papers as "Jane Doe."
A man allowed to give his name only as David also briefly spoke at the hearing. He was the son of England and Zudis, given up for adoption when Zudis was 13.
"It left me wondering my entire life what my heritage is. I'm still fighting that fight," he said.
Trial testimony showed that England repeatedly had sex with Zudis beginning at age 5, and also had her invite friends to their home so he could molest them as well. Court documents show that England even had a concealed camera near a bathtub so he could spy on the girls while they bathed. Later, he used alcohol to make Zudis and her friends more compliant.
"This case provides a front-row seat to a level of human depravity that simply exceeds the imagination of most people," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey Steinberg.
According to court documents, England was working in Vietnam as a civilian contractor in the early 1970s when he bought Zudis from her mother. Eventually they settled in Orange County, Calif., and England was tried and convicted in 1977 of three molestation charges involving the girl's friends. While out on bail, he and Zudis fled.
After Zudis came forward, England was captured in Florida and returned to California to serve what originally were three life sentences. But those sentences were reduced, and England was about to walk out of prison in March 2010 when federal charges were filed in Florida.
England's court-appointed attorney, R. D'Arsey Houlihan, said England planned to appeal his convictions and sentence.