Nathan Mattise and Cyrus Farivar - Sep 19, 2018 8:03 pm UTCEnlarge /
Cody Wilson, owner of Defense Distributed company, holds a 3D printed gun, called the "Liberator", in his factory in Austin, Texas, on August 1, 2018.
KELLY WEST/AFP/Getty Images
On Wednesday afternoon, the Austin Police Department told the public that Wilson still wasn't in custody. The Defense Distributed founder's last known whereabouts are Taipei, Taiwan, and he skipped his flight back to the States. Authorities believe he received a tip about the new allegations.
"We know Mr. Wilson frequently travels for business," Commander Troy Officer, of APD’s Organized Crime Division, told assembled press shortly after 2pm Central Time. "We don't know why he went to Taiwan, but we do know that he was informed that he was being investigated."
Just after 6pm Central Time, the United States Marshals Service released a wanted poster for Wilson, which is pictured at right.
In a five-page affidavit obtained earlier in the day by Ars, APD detective Shaun Donovan outlines what allegedly took place between Wilson and the unnamed victim. The Defense Distributed founder initially met with the girl on August 15 at Bennu Coffee on 515 South Congress Ave.
APD later obtained surveillance video from the area, which showed the girl at around 8:09pm that evening. She also told police that she next got in Wilson’s black Ford Edge SUV. The affidavit notes that a Ford Edge is registered to Defense Distributed.
The girl told police that she accompanied Wilson to the Archer Hotel, about 13 miles north of Bennu, and that Wilson parked using the hotel’s valet service. APD discovered hotel surveillance video showing that Wilson and the girl exited the car at the hotel around 8:35pm. Police also obtained "digital valet receipts," which showed that the SUV was returned to Wilson around 9:17pm.
According to the girl, she and Wilson took an elevator to the 7th Floor, where they entered Room 718. Again, hotel surveillance video corroborated her account, and hotel records confirmed that Wilson was registered for the hotel that evening. After their encounter, Wilson allegedly paid her with five $100 bills.
Police say Wilson next drove the girl 33 miles south and dropped her off at a Whataburger. Once more, police found that video footage corroborated her account.
A week after the alleged encounter, a counselor contacted APD on August 22 to inform them that one of her clients had been involved in this incident. Detectives then interviewed the girl, who provided numerous details about her alleged encounter with Wilson.
The girl's parents also allowed the police to search the girl's iPhone. There, authorities found numerous messages and links to SugarDaddyMeet.com, the website where Wilson and the girl apparently met.
Police ultimately matched a Texas driver’s license of Wilson, who allegedly went by the handle "Sanjuro," with Sanjuro’s profile picture on the website.
Wilson and the girl exchanged messages first through SugarDaddyMeet and later via iMessages. Reportedly, he eventually told the girl that he was a "big deal." When she attempted to learn more about him, the girl found numerous news articles about the digital firearms activist.
She was interviewed a second time on August 30 by Austin police, and at that time she told authorities she and Wilson had exchanged nude photos of one another.
Today, Travis County Magistrate Judge Tamara Needles set a bond at $150,000 and required that Wilson surrender his passport. Upon arrest, Judge Needles also ordered police to take photographs of the inside of Wilson’s "upper legs," presumably as a way to be identified by the victim. Wilson apparently has a "uniquely identifiable skin condition," according to court documents.Enlarge /
APD's Cmdr. Troy Officer speaks to the press about a new warrant regarding child sexual assault allegations against Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson.
APD notified the press shortly after 1pm that it would be sharing updates on the Wilson situation. Cmdr. Officer started by outlining the details from the affidavit before revealing the fact that Wilson wasn't yet in custody and was last known to be in Taipei, Taiwan. Cmdr. Officer did not know the precise date when Wilson flew out to Taiwan, nor did he know the exact date of Wilson's missed return flight.
According to the US State Department website, there is no extradition treaty in force between Taiwan and the United States (should Wilson still be in the country).
APD is now working with US Marshals and international partners to carry out the arrest warrant. Wilson has also been entered into a national law enforcement database for sexual assault of a child, Cmdr. Officer said.
At the press conference, APD shared a few more details on the situation not previously included in the court documents. The alleged victim is 16 years old and lives in Central Texas. Regarding her entry on SugarDaddyMeet, Cmdr. Officer said authorities have no reason to believe that "anyone other than the victim" signed up for the site.
“The charge is sexual assault, and the statute says a victim under 17 is considered a child," Cmdr. Officer said. "My detectives have interviewed and spoken with this victim, and in their opinion if someone mistakes their age, it’d be because she’s younger not older.”
Cmdr. Officer added that the allegations against Wilson would constitute a second degree felony, which is punishable by up to 20 years and a $10,000 fine.
When asked if Wilson said anything indicating he knew the reality of the situation, Cmdr. Officer didn't share any details from the messages between Wilson and the girl referenced in court documents. “Any time you solicit—whether as a child or as an adult—it’s illegal," Cmdr. Officer said. "This happens to be a child, but I don't think my detectives have ever sat down with an [alleged perpetrator] that said, 'I knew the victim was underage.'”
Cmdr. Officer fielded a few other questions, like if the APD knew whether Wilson had a history of this alleged action (right now, they're only aware of this particular incident) or whether anything indicates this might be entrapment. "That’s why we have the courtroom and attorneys," Cmdr. Officer said. "Our job is to enforce the law and make an arrest on the front end. We felt we had enough to charge him with and we had the District Attorney and Judge signing off on the affidavit.”
Cmdr. Officer ended the press conference by encouraging anyone with information related to this case or any case where someone was victimized to reach out to the APD tip line. Below, you can watch the short information session in full via the APD Facebook page. Ars will also be sending a few follow-up questions to the APD regarding the status of the search for Wilson, and we'll update this story should any new details become available.