Texas man behind controversial 3-D printed guns charged with sex assault of minor

By Gina Cherelus

(Reuters) – A Texas man whose plan to sell blueprints for 3-D printed plastic guns spurred national controversy was charged on Wednesday with paying an underaged girl for sex at a hotel, according to court documents.

Austin police on Aug. 22 received a report that a girl under the age of 17 had told an abuse counselor that she had sex with Cody Wilson at an Austin hotel for $500, according to an arrest affidavit.

A lawyer for Wilson, who was charged with sexually assaulting a minor, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Wilson, 30, founded the group Defense Distributed, which has been selling 3-D firearm-design files on flash drives via regular mail after a U.S. federal judge barred them from posting the blueprints online.

In an Aug. 27 interview with police, the minor said she had exchanged messages with a man using the screen name “Sanjuro” on SugarDaddyMeet.com, according to the affidavit. The girl said “Sanjuro” later identified himself as Wilson and described himself as a “big deal,” and that they exchanged nude photos of themselves.

The minor said she and Wilson had sex at a local hotel on Aug. 15, according to the document.

The girl’s statement has been corroborated with security video footage and records showing Wilson registered as a guest at the hotel that night, police said.

Wilson had not been arrested as of Wednesday morning, according to Austin police spokeswoman Stephanie Jacksis, who declined to provide additional information.

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

Earlier this year, the administration of President Donald Trump reached a settlement with Defense Distributed and reversed the ban. In response, a group of 19 states and the District of Columbia in July sued the U.S. government, arguing that publishing the blueprints would allow criminals easy access to weapons.

That settlement was blocked last month by U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik in Seattle, who ordered Wilson not to post blueprints online.

Instead, Wilson began selling them by mail, saying the judge’s order did not bar him from doing so.

Files available on Defense Distributed’s website include blueprints for components of a version of the AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle, used in several U.S. mass shootings. They were available for purchase at a suggested price of $10 each.

(Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Joseph Ax and Bernadette Baum)