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The founder of the 3D gun printing company embroiled in a legal battle with the U.S. government over making the DIY instructions publicly accessible online has been accused of sexually assaulting a minor in Texas.
Cody Wilson was charged with the second-degree felony on Wednesday, according to the Austin Police Department.
At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Austin Police Cmdr. Troy Officer said the 30-year-old’s last known location was Taipei, Taiwan. Although Officer said authorities are not clear on Wilson’s reasons for the trip abroad, he acknowledged that the controversial entrepreneur makes frequent business trips to the country, which does not have an extradition agreement with the U.S.
Wilson appears to have missed a scheduled flight back to the U.S., Officer said.
The (Austin) Statesman reported that police believe Wilson left the country after a friend of the girl told him about the police investigation.
“I’m not even trying to guess Mr. Wilson’s motive,” Officer said at the news conference, according to KUT reporter Andrew Weber. “But we do know that based on the victim and investigation, he had sexual contact with a 16-year-old girl, which in the state of Texas is illegal.”
According to an affidavit filed in Travis County District Court, a counselor called local authorities to report that a girl under the age of 17 had told her she had sex with a 30-year-old man she had met on the site SugarDaddyMeet.com, in exchange for $500.
The pair initially communicated over the site, with Wilson using the pseudonym Sanjuro and suggesting he was a “big deal,” before revealing his true identity, the documents say. At the time, the girl said she was unaware of Wilson and the national headlines about his company, Defense Distributed.
They eventually moved on to text by phone, over which she said she “had received images from ‘Sanjuro’ of his penis and had sent a picture of herself naked.” The affidavit says detectives determined that Sanjuro and Wilson were the same person after comparing his SugarDaddyMeet.com profile photo to Wilson’s driver’s license photo.
The two made arrangements to meet on Aug. 15 at a coffee shop, then moved on to a hotel where the girl told authorities said she and Wilson had sex. Afterward, he paid her $500, she said.
The details of the girl’s story were corroborated by investigators who used hotel records and surveillance footage to verify her version of events, according to the affidavit.
Wilson was thrust into the national spotlight after Defense Distributed successfully created downloadable blueprints for a single-shot pistol made out plastic, then posted them on the Internet. But almost immediately he was forced to take them down by President Obama’s State Department, which contended that posting the plans online violates firearms export laws.
Wilson subsequently sued the State Department. He has long framed the issue as one of free speech and said the State Department violated his First Amendment and Second Amendment rights.
In June, the Trump administration reversed course, granting Wilson and his company permission to release the files online. Wilson pledged to post blueprints for three weapons online on Aug. 1, but he did so ahead of schedule and they were available to the public for four days.
As NPR’s Camila Domonoske reported, attorneys general from 19 states sued Wilson, arguing the ubiquitous availability of the weapons plans posed a threat to national security, and a Seattle-based federal judge granted a preliminary injunction barring the designs from being posted online.
A day later Wilson announced that he would get around the temporary restraining order by selling the plans through the mail.
As Matt Largey reported, at a news conference in August, Wilson said his company will mail USB drives to customers, who can pay whatever they want. By the end of the event, Wilson said he had already received more than 400 orders.