Wilson’s last known whereabouts was in Taiwan, which does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S.
Cody Wilson, an Austin man whose fight over 3D-printed guns brought him into the national spotlight, is accused of having sex with an underage girl last month at a North Austin hotel and might be on the lam in Taiwan, authorities said Wednesday.
Austin police Cmdr. Troy Officer, who heads the department’s Organized Crime Division, said Wilson’s last known whereabouts was in the Taiwanese capital, Taipei, and that Wilson missed a planned return flight home, but Officer couldn’t say why.
An arrest affidavit filed Wednesday said the sexual assault charge against Wilson stemmed from an Aug. 15 encounter with a 16-year-old girl he’d met on SugarDaddyMeet.com, a website that boasts of having more than 1.6 million members. The site’s homepage says it requires users be 18 or older to have an account.
“We have no reason to believe at this point that anyone other than the victim signed herself up for this account,” Officer said.
The affidavit said a counselor had called Austin police Aug. 22 to report that the teen had told her she had sex with a 30-year-old man on Aug. 15 and was paid $500.
The girl told authorities on Aug. 27 that she created an account on the website and began exchanging messages with a man who had the username “Sanjuro,” the affidavit said.
During one conversation, the document said, “‘Sanjuro’ identified himself as ‘Cody Wilson.’ (and the) victim said that ‘Sanjuro’ described himself to the victim as a ‘big deal.’”
According to the document, Wilson sent the girl images of his genital area, and she sent him nude photos of herself.
“My detectives have interviewed and spoken with this victim, and in their opinion, if someone mistakes her age, it would be because they think she’s younger, not older than the 16-year-old that she is,” Officer said.
Investigators compared the profile photo used on the SugarDaddyMeet.com account to Wilson’s driver’s license photo and determined that they were of the same person, the affidavit said.
The girl told police that she met Wilson at Bennu Coffee in the 500 block of South Congress Avenue in South Austin on Aug. 15 before they took Wilson’s black 2015 Ford Edge to the Archer Hotel in the 3100 block of Palm Way in North Austin.
Detectives used surveillance footage to corroborate the girl’s story, along with hotel records that showed Wilson rented a room there, the affidavit said.
The girl told police she and Wilson had sex at the hotel and that he paid her $500. The pair left the hotel about 9:20 p.m. before Wilson dropped the girl off at a Whataburger restaurant on Slaughter Lane, the affidavit said.
Sexual assault is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
“We know Mr. Wilson frequently travels for business,” Officer said. “We don’t know why he went to Taiwan, but we do know before he left he was informed by a friend of the victim that she had spoken to police and police were investigating him for having sex with a minor.”
Austin police had planned to arrest Wilson at his home in the past 10 days, but they called off the operation after learning he was no longer in the country.
Law enforcement sources said they are hoping Wilson returns on his own.
Taiwan does not have an extradition treaty with the United States, according to the U.S. State Department. But U.S. officials have worked informally with other nations to arrange for the return of high-profile fugitives from overseas without such agreements in place.
That’s what happened after former Austin police officer Vontrey Clark traveled to Indonesia after the February 2015 slaying of his girlfriend, Samantha Dean. Clark, who is charged in connection with her death, was brought back even though Indonesia does not have an extradition treaty with the United States.
U.S. Marshals Service spokesman Brandon Filla said his agency has received a request from Austin police to help with Wilson’s return.
Once Wilson is in the U.S., Travis County prosecutors are expected to request that he immediately be extradited to Texas. The county will then pay the costs of his return to Austin.
Wilson, 30, first rose to national prominence in 2012 when he announced the Wiki Weapon Project, an effort to design and build the first gun made from durable plastic on a 3D printer.
A year later, Wilson successfully fired a self-made, single-shot pistol he called the Liberator and posted the plans online. The State Department ordered him to remove the post for violating a federal law against exporting certain weapons or firearms designs to other countries.
Wilson sued the State Department, saying he and his Austin company, Defense Distributed, had a free-speech right to disseminate the plans. In a reversal earlier this year, the Trump administration settled with Wilson and allowed him to post plans for 3D-printed weapon online.
But officials from 19 states sued, arguing that publication of weapons plans posed a danger to national security and the public. A federal judge in Seattle agreed and issued an order last month blocking publication. A day later, Wilson announced that he had begun selling the plans, saying the judge’s order only stopped online publication and not distribution by mail and other secure means.
In a recent interview with the American-Statesman, Wilson said his efforts grew out of his belief in crypto-anarchy, a philosophy that seeks to use a free internet and encryption technology to reduce government influence over people’s lives.
“I will continue to fight anyone who will try to sue me and say that I can’t do this,” he said.