The man at the center of a legal controversy over his plan to put the instructions for 3D-printed guns online has been charged with sexually assaulting a teen girl he met online. Investigators say Cody Wilson sexually assaulted a 16-year-old a hotel in Austin, Texas, in August after messaging her through a website called SugarDaddyMeet.com. The 30-year-old Wilson had not been booked into the Travis County jail on the charges as of Wednesday morning.
According to court documents filed by the Travis County District Attorney’s office, Wilson was charged September 19 with sexual assault, a second-degree felony. If convicted, he faces between 2 to 20 years in prison. The case was investigated by the Human Trafficking/Vice Unit of the Austin Police Department and the Travis County Internet Crimes Against Children task force. Austin Police began investigating after a counselor told detectives her client, a 16-year-old girl who lives in Central Texas, told her she had been sexually assaulted by a 30-year-old man on August 15 and had been paid $500 by him.
Austin Police Commander Troy Officer said at a press conference that Wilson’s last known location was in Taipei, Taiwan. Officer said Wilson “missed a scheduled flight back to the United States. A warrant has been issued and Mr. Wilson’s name entered into the National Law Enforcement Computer for sexual assault of a child. We are also working national and international law enforcement partners to bring him to justice.” Officer said they are working with the U.S. Marshals to find Wilson. “We know Mr. Wilson travels frequently for business. We don’t know why he went to Taiwan, but we do know that before he left he was informed by a friend of the victim that she had spoken to police and police were investigating him,” Officer said.
Wilson is the founder of Defense Distributed and the creator of a functioning gun, the Liberator, that can be made using a 3D printer. The legal battle over his plans to post the instructions on how to make the gun on his website has raged since 2013, when the State Department ordered him to remove the instructions, claiming he violated a federal law against exporting weapons or firearm designs to other countries. Wilson sued the State Department, claiming his free speech rights were violated, and the Trump administration settled with him earlier this year, allowing him to post the plans online. But several states sued him to block the publication of the blueprints after the settlement and a federal judge sided with the states. But Wilson said the judge’s order does not prevent him to sell the plans, which he has been doing.
Wilson told the Statesman he believes in “crypto-anarchy,” which the newspaper describes as a “philosophy that seeks to use a free internet and encryption technology to reduce government influence over people’s lives.” Wilson is also behind Hatreon, a crowdfunding site founded in 2017 that provides crowdfunding opportunities to groups and people who are blocked from mainstream crowdfunders because of their beliefs. Bloomberg News reported that most of Hatreon’s donations go to white supremacists. In 2012, Wired called Wilson one of “The 15 Most Dangerous People in the World,” because of his plans for printable, downloadable guns.
Wilson has not commented on the charges and it is not clear if he has hired an attorney. You can read more about Cody Rutledge Wilson’s background here. Here’s what you need to know about the sexual assault accusation:
Wilson Told the Girl He Was a ‘Big Deal’ & Sent Her Nude Photos of Himself Before Meeting Her at a Coffee Shop, Police Say
According to the affidavit, written by Austin Police Detective Shaun Donovan, Cody Wilson is accused of sexually assaulting a girl under the age of 17 on August 15, 2018. Donovan and his colleagues began investigating the case on August 22 after they were contacted by the girl’s counselor. Detectives interviewed the girl on August 27 along with a forensic interviewer from the Center for Child Protection. The victim told the interviewer “she had sex with a thirty-year-old male at a hotel in Austin, Texas and was paid five-hundred dollars by him,” according to the affidavit.
“The victim stated that she created an online profile using the website SugarDaddyMeet.com. The victim said she exchanged messages with a person who was using the screen name ‘Sanjuro,'” Donovan wrote. “The victim stated that she and ‘Sanjuro’ exchanged cell phone numbers and continued their conversation using the Apple iMessage service on her phone.” Donovan said investigators searched her phone with her parents’ consent and found evidence showing she had communicated through the site with “Sanjuro.” Donovan said the man identified himself as Cody Wilson in the messages:
During this conversation, ‘Sanjuro’ identified himself to the victim as ‘Cody Wilson.’ Victim said that ‘Sanjuro’ described himself to the victim as a ‘big deal. Victim said she was unaware of the name ‘Cody Wilson’ and tried to learn more about him. The victim found ‘Cody Wilson’s’ name on the internet and confirmed he was the subject of recent news articles. Victims stated that she and ‘Sanjuro’ continued to text via Apple iMessage and arranged to meet on August 15th, 2018.
According to the affidavit, the victim told detectives she had received messages from “Sanjuro” of his penis and had sent him a picture of herself naked. Donovan said he compared Wilson’s driver’s license photo with the profile image for “Sanjuro” on the SugarDaddyMeet.com website and “recognized the images as depicting the same person.” The victim told police she and Wilson met in person on August 15 at Bennu Coffee in Austin, according to the affidavit. Donovan said he viewed surveillance footage from the coffee shop that showed Wilson meeting the girl about 8:09 p.m. that night and then leaving in a black Ford Edge four-door SUV. Donovan said Wilson’s business, Defense Distributed, owns a black 2015 Ford Edge with the same license plate.
The victim told police she went with Wilson to Archer Hotel in Austin in his SUV. Wilson parked using the valet service, which can also be seen on surveillance video, Donovan wrote in the affidavit. Donovan also obtained digital valet receipts from that night, corroborating the victim’s statement. Donovan said the video at the hotel showed Wilson and the girl arriving about 8:35 p.m. and the receipts showed Wilson left about 9:17 p.m. The victim told police that they went to a room on the seventh floor of the hotel. Donovan said hotel records show Wilson was the one person registered for that room on that date.
Donovan wrote in the affidavit that the victim said, “she and Wilson engaged in sexual intercourse and oral sex on the hotel room’s bed. Victim stated that at the conclusion of sex, Wilson retrieved five $100 bills from a bag on the floor and gave her the five $100 bills.” Wilson and the girl then left the room and returned to the elevator at 9:19 p.m., Donovan said, citing surveillance video. The girl said Wilson then drove her to a Whataburger restaurant and dropped her off. Donovan said in the affidavit that video from the restaurant shows the girl getting out of Wilson’s black SUV after being parked in the lot for about eight minutes. The video then showed her walking to a parked vehicle.
Commander Troy Officer said at a press conference, “We have no reason to believe at this point that anyone other the victim signed herself up” for the sugar daddy website. A reporter asked whether the girl lied about her age because the website requires those who use it to be over the age of 18, and Officer replied, “The charge is sexual assault. The statute says that the victim under the age of 17 is considered a child. My detectives have interviewed and spoken to this victim and if in their opinion someone mistakes age it was because they think she’s younger, not older, than the 16-year-old she is.”
Officer said the counselor was required by law to report the girl’s sexual assault accusation and the victim cooperated when asked to talk to detectives. He said the investigation is still ongoing and further charges could be filed. Wilson has not spoken to detectives, Officer said. “Mr. Wilson left the country before we could seek an interview.”
You can read the full affidavit in support of the arrest warrant application below:
Wilson has not yet turned himself in, but according to the court documents, he will be held on $150,000 bond when he does. The conditions of his release will also include GPS monitoring, no contact with the victim and that he surrender his passport, the court documents show. Police have also asked to be able to take photographic evidence of Wilson’s body to document a “uniquely identifiable skin condition,” according to the affidavit.
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