3-D Gun-Printing Advocate Charged With Sex Assault in Texas

(Bloomberg) -- A gun-rights advocate known for his quest to help Americans manufacture firearms at home using 3-D printers may be on the run in Taiwan, after police in Texas charged him for paying to have sex with a 16-year-old girl.

The Austin Police Department is working with national and international authorities to locate Cody Wilson, 30, and "bring him to justice" after he became aware of the investigation and missed a flight home from Taipei, Commander Troy Officer said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Wilson’s nonprofit firm, Defense Distributed, recently clashed with Democratic-led states over his plan to publish gun blueprints online. The Austin-based company provides templates of various firearms on its website, which users can download and produce at home on 3-D printers.

Wilson, who has described himself as a "crypto-anarchist," was charged by Austin police with sexually assaulting the unidentified girl by paying $500 to have sex with her at a hotel. Police say Wilson met her on the website "SugarDaddyMeet.com," after bragging to her about his newfound notoriety.

A judge in Travis County, Texas, issued a warrant for Wilson’s arrest.

Surveillance video from Aug. 15 shows the pair at a coffee shop and later at a hotel. The victim told authorities about the incident. Police said it wasn’t clear if Wilson knew the girl’s age, but that authorities who interviewed her believe she looks younger than 16, not older.

Police said a friend of the victim called Wilson and tipped him off that authorities were investigating. It’s not clear how the friend knew Wilson.

A call to Wilson’s mobile phone wasn’t answered and the voice mail box was full. His criminal defense lawyer couldn’t immediately be identified. Josh Blackman, Wilson’s lawyer in the civil suit that was filed by the states, said he only represents the Texan in civil matters.

After the charges became public on Wednesday, organizers of a Second Amendment conference set for the coming weekend said Wilson wouldn’t be speaking at the event. He had been scheduled on Sept. 22 to discuss the impact of 3-D printing on the future of gun control at the 33rd annual gun rights policy conference in Chicago.

The charge Wilson faces is a second-degree felony in Texas. If found guilty, he could find himself barred from owning a firearm due to state and federal regulations.

Gun-control activists have argued that Defense Distributed’s templates could put guns in the hands of criminals. Gun-rights activists argued that untraceable guns are already prohibited under federal law, making the templates simply a technological advancement in the firearms space.

In August, a Seattle judge blocked Defense Distributed from posting the 3-D printing gun templates to its website. In an effort to circumvent the decision, Wilson instead started selling the files instead of giving them away for free.

He has also used the Defense Distributed website to raise over $340,000 for his 3-D printed gun rights cause.

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