A couple of news stories to catch you up if you haven't been following this:
Three factoids to help you put the matter in perspective:
- No, Wilson is not accused of actually sexually assaulting anyone. He's accused of violating a Texas statute which labels sex, consensual or otherwise, with individuals under 17 years of age "sexual assault of a child." There's a difference.
- No, the "victim" is not a "child" under any reasonable definition. She's a sex worker who claimed to be 18 years of age or older as a condition of registering at a "Sugar Daddy" web site (sugardaddymeet.com), which is where she (allegedly) connected with Wilson prior to (again allegedly) having sex with him in return for payment. She is allegedly 16.
- The basis for the affidavit under which an arrest warrant was obtained (included in the Wired story) does not depict the "victim" as alleging any kind of assault, sexual or otherwise, when interviewed by a detective (she merely described a consensual sexual encounter for pay), nor was it the "victim" who went to police (it was an unnamed "counselor" to whom the "victim" described the encounter).
A few additional questions/thoughts ...
Q: Was it a "setup?"
I've seen ideas thrown out there ranging from "the police set it up as a sting from the beginning to get Cody Wilson" to "the 'victim' is anti-gun and when she came across Wilson on the sugar daddy site she saw an opportunity to get him, or it's the 'counselor' who is anti-gun and saw such an opportunity."
If there's anything hinky on that end of things, and I am not saying there is, I'd guess one or both of the latter two rather than the first one. If the police were setting up a sting, they'd have used an adult cop posing as a minor and tried to get Wilson to overtly reference a desire to have sex with a minor, then nabbed him when he showed up for the meet.
Q: Does it matter if he didn't know she is a minor?
According to the statute, no. But the statute is clearly defective in trying to get around the intent angle by making the sex illegal "regardless of whether the person knows the age of the child at the time of the offense."
Let's go to analogy here and suppose a statute defines killing a person with poison as murder "regardless of whether the person knows that he or she is feeding the victim poison." Would that pass mens rea muster? Not a chance.
Q: Is Cody Wilson a pedophile?
Not based on this charge. The "victim" was clearly both post-pubescent and posing as an adult. If he was a pedophile, he would by definition have been looking for sex with a prepubescent child.
Q: Do you think Wilson should go to jail for this?
Based on the available facts, to the extent that I think I know them, no. This charge is complete bullshit from beginning to end. He allegedly engaged the services of a sex worker, which should not be illegal. She turned out to be younger than a number drawn out of a hat by some politicians, which does not define actual ability to consent. She seems to have 1) falsely held herself out as older than the number drawn out of the hat, 2) convincingly held herself out as fully competent to consent, and 3) actually consented.
Q: What does this mean for Defense Distributed?
Wilson is alleged to have picked the "victim" up in a vehicle registered to Defense Distributed. Depending on what the asset forfeiture laws look like in Texas, the state might seize that vehicle, any computers used in arranging the encounter, and possibly even go after the non-profit's assets.
And, of course, the whole thing will be used to demonize both Wilson personally and Defense Distributed itself. In theory, that shouldn't affect the outcome of the free speech / free press case regarding publication/downloading of CAD files for home manufacturing of guns, but it will certainly be used to influence public opinion on the case.
Q: Is there a defense fund, and if so will you contribute to it?
I've looked and there doesn't seem to be a defense fund yet. When and if one pops up, yes, I will contribute to it and I hope you will too. At this point, I see no case for anything less than full moral and material support for both Wilson and Defense Distributed from all who support freedom.