3-D printed guns creator Cody Wilson flies to Taiwan amid US sex assault accusation

Mr Cody Wilson is under investigation for allegedly paying a 16-year-old girl for sex.
Mr Cody Wilson is under investigation for allegedly paying a 16-year-old girl for sex.PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - A Texas man at the centre of a legal battle over his plan to make instructions available for 3-D printed plastic guns flew to Taiwan after learning police in Austin were investigating an accusation that he had sex with an underage girl, police said on Wednesday (Sept 19).

Mr Cody Wilson, 30, was placed under investigation after a counsellor told police on Aug 22 that a 16-year-old girl had said she was paid US$500 (S$680) to have sex with Mr Wilson at an Austin hotel, Austin Police Commander Troy Officer said at a news conference.

Police later interviewed the girl and on Wednesday obtained a warrant for Mr Wilson's arrest, but by then he had caught a flight to Taiwan, Commander Officer said.

"We know Mr Wilson frequently travels for business. We don't know why he went to Taiwan," he said.

"But we do know before he left, he was informed by a friend of the victim that she had spoken to police and the police were investigating him for having sex with a minor."

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

The island's Criminal Investigation Bureau told Reuters on Thursday that it did not receive any request on the matter from the US and it is not immediately clear whether Mr Wilson was in Taiwan.

Mr Wilson founded the group Defence Distributed, which has been selling 3-D firearm-design files on flash drives and sending them via regular mail after a US federal judge barred the group from posting the blueprints online.

 
 
 

A lawyer for Mr Wilson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In an Aug 27 interview with police, the teenager said she had exchanged messages with a man using the screen name "Sanjuro" on SugarDaddyMeet.com, according to a police affidavit.

The girl said "Sanjuro" later revealed his real name, described himself as a "big deal" and exchanged nude photos with her.

The girl said she and Mr Wilson had sex at a local hotel on Aug 15, according to the document. Her statement was corroborated with security video footage and records showing Mr Wilson registered as a guest at the hotel that night, police said.

Mr Wilson sparked a legal battle in 2015 after he challenged a government ban on posting the blueprints for printing 3-D guns to the Internet, claiming it infringed on his rights to free speech and to bear arms.

The Trump administration earlier this year reached a settlement lifting the ban for Defence Distributed. But 19 states and the District of Columbia challenged that decision in court in July, arguing that publishing the blueprints would allow criminals easy access to unregistered weapons.

Last month, US District Judge Robert Lasnik in Seattle ordered Mr Wilson not to post blueprints online. Instead, Mr Wilson began selling them by mail, saying the judge's order did not bar him from doing so.