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Man behind legal battle over 3D printed guns charged with sexual assault of a minor

Cody Wilson, owner of Defense Distributed company, holds a 3D printed gun, called the 'Liberator', in his factory on Aug. 1 in Austin, Texas. Wilson has been charged with sexual assault by the the Austin police department. (KELLY WEST/AFP/Getty Images)

UPDATE — Sept. 21, 11:00 a.m.: A Taiwanese media outlet has reported that Wilson has been arrested in Taipei. It also reported that Wilson signed a six-month lease in Taiwan after finding out that he was wanted in the U.S. on sexual assault charges.

The original report is below.

The man behind an ongoing debate regarding the legality of 3D printed guns has been charged with sexual assault of a minor.

Who is Cody Wilson?

Cody Wilson designed and printed his own 3D gun, which he dubbed "The Liberator" after a classic World War II firearm. In 2012, he decided to sell these plans online. Wilson planned to circumvent rules banning the distribution of 3D gun plans online by selling only the parts to this gun instead of the whole thing.

In May 2013, the State Department's Office of Trade Controls Compliance ordered that Wilson's company, Defense Distributed, stop distributing any gun parts.

In July, the Department of Justice announced that it had reached a settlement with the Second Amendment Foundation to allow Cody to continue his distribution.

On Aug. 27, U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik extended a ruling that banned Defense Distributed from uploading any plans for its guns. Wilson announced at a news conference the following day that he planned to get around this ruling by instead selling flash drives containing the plans.

What happened now?

The Austin Police Department has charged Wilson with sexual assault after he allegedly paid an underage girl $500 for sex, according to the arrest affidavit that was filed in the Travis County district court.

The girl in question is 16 and Wilson is 30 years old. The two reportedly met after she created a profile on the website SugarDaddyMeet.com.

Despite using the pseudonym “Sanjuro” as a username on the website, the Austin American-Statesman reported that Wilson told the girl his real name and referred to himself as a “big deal.” After exchanging graphic text messages, Wilson and the girl met at a coffee shop in south Austin on Aug. 15, before going to the Archer Hotel where the girl alleges that Wilson paid her for sex. Afterward, Wilson dropped the girl off at a Whataburger.

A counselor for the girl reached out to police on Aug. 22, and by Aug. 27, the Austin police had conducted a forensic interview with her.

Austin police were able to use surveillance footage and hotel records to confirm details from the girl's story.

Where is Wilson?

Although he has been charged, at the time of this article's publication, Wilson has not been booked at the Travis County Jail.

Wilson is not in the United States. He is reportedly in the Taiwan capital of Taipei. He has reportedly missed his scheduled flight after being tipped off by a friend of the victim.

Austin police say that they are not aware of the reason behind Wilson's current trip to Taiwan, although he flies there frequently for business.

Taiwan does not have an extradition treaty with the United States.

If convicted, Wilson could face up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

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