Austin man at center of 3D-printed gun debate is arrested in Taiwan
Austin police had filed sexual assault charges against Cody Wilson.
Two days after authorities filed sexual assault charges against Cody Wilson, the Austin man at the center of the national debate over 3D-printed guns, Taiwanese law enforcement officials took him into custody in that country’s capital with plans to return him to the United States.
Wilson was arrested in the Wanhua District of Taipei, Taiwanese media reported.
According to Taiwan News, Wilson had checked into the Mandarin Oriental Hotel for one day after he arrived in the country before moving to another location.
Media reports said a real estate agent notified authorities that Wilson had signed a six-month rental agreement for a studio in the area after learning of the charges against him on TV.
According to The Associated Press, Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported that police found Wilson at a hotel Friday evening, and that immigration officials would send him back to the U.S. as soon as possible.
Austin police issued a warrant for Wilson’s arrest Tuesday, alleging the maker of 3D-printed guns had sex with a 16-year-old girl he met through the dating website SugarDaddyMeet.com.
A counselor came forward to investigators Aug. 22 to report that the girl told her she’d had sex with a 30-yearold man Aug. 15. The girl also said the man paid her $500, police said.
During a forensic interview in late August, the girl told police she used an account she created on the dating site to exchange messages with Wilson, who went by the username “Sanjuro.”
After messaging online, the two began to exchange text messages.
“During this conversation, ‘Sanjuro’ identified himself as ‘Cody Wilson.’ Victim said that ‘Sanjuro’ described himself to the victim as a ‘big deal,’” Wilson’s arrest affidavit says.
According to the affidavit, both Wilson and the girl sent nude photos to each other. They eventually met at Bennu Coffee on South Congress Avenue and went to a North Austin hotel where they had sex.
Police obtained surveillance footage that showed Wilson at the locations where the girl said they had been, along with records that showed Wilson rented a room at the hotel.
Austin police had planned to arrest Wilson at his home in the 10 days before news of the charges against him broke. However, they called off the operation after finding out that Wilson was not in the U.S.
Austin police Cmdr. Troy Officer said investigators were aware of his last-known whereabouts in Taipei, and that he missed a planned return flight home.
While Officer said he didn’t know why Wilson had gone to Taiwan, authorities knew that a friend of the alleged victim had told Wilson she had spoken to police.
Wilson will return to Texas to stand trial for sexual assault. The charge is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Wilson rocketed to national prominence in 2012 after announcing plans to design and build the first gun made on a 3D printer from durable plastic. He completed that weapon — dubbed the Liberator — about a year later and posted schematics of the gun online.
The move set a legal pendulum in motion that has rocked back and forth for the past few years.
The State Department first ordered him to take the plans down, saying that they violated federal laws against exporting weapons or designs to other countries. In turn, Wilson sued, claiming he and his company Defense Distributed had a First Amendment right to publish the plans.
Earlier this year, the Trump administration settled Wilson’s case and allowed him to post the plans. But then, officials from 19 states filed another lawsuit to keep the blueprints under wraps, saying they were a threat to national security and public safety.
Instead of posting the plans, Wilson opted to sell them online, saying a Seattle judge’s ruling in support of the multistate suit only barred him from publishing the blueprints for free.