Cody Wilson is a 30-year-old, well-known (in some circles) gun rights activist. Many know him as the 3D printed gun guy. He runs a company called Defense Distributed - they produce files that help individuals with the 3D printing of weapons. As you can imagine, he and his company are not popular with the government (or anti-weapon people).
He recently allegedly met a young woman in TX on a website called SugarDaddyMeet(.com) where all members must be over the age of 18. The site boasts "member verification" - however tucked into their service agreement is this:
"SM.com is not responsible for any of the information provided to SDM.com or SM.com during the age, education, photo, occupation, income or any other verification process. In issuing any certification as to a Member's "verified" or "certified" status, you agree and accept that SM.com has not done any due diligence on the materials or information provided, but has simply relied on the information submitted by the Member or user, which may or may not be accurate or truthful. The term "verified" or "certified" is not to be in anyway construed as a guarantee of any information provided by the Member to you or by the Member or user to SM.com."
This young woman claimed to be 18. In reality she was 16. According to investigators "she looks younger", though no public photos of her have been released (and likely won't since she's a minor) so it's not like any of us get to judge that, and I'm not sure I want to base my opinion on an investigator's opinion.
Either way, she presented herself as 18 (therefore a legal adult and over the age of consent in TX).
The two allegedly met in person, went to an Austin TX hotel, had sex, and Wilson gave her $500 (presumably for the sex. SugarDaddyMeet, and other websites like it, strongly encourage "Daddies" to give gifts to their "babies" when they first meet - and some arrangements aren't explicitly or primarily sexual though obviously many are).
TX age of consent is 17. The young woman apparently has been seeing a counselor for a while for something else, and spoke to her counselor about this, who reported it to the police.
Since the young woman is actually 16, Wilson has a warrant out for his arrest for a second degree felony charge of sexual assault (potential punishment on conviction is 2-20 years & a $10k fine). This is not in reference to prostitution, as Reason(.com) reports - "The nature of the charge under Texas penal code 22.011(A)(2)(a) makes consent or payment irrelevant; her being legally a child is all that matters."
Wilson was traveling in Taiwan. The US Government revoked his passport, and police in Taiwan arrested him and he is expected to be deported back to the US for trial.
Wilson's case within the public (or internet) sphere seems to get a lot of knee-jerk response: either "absolutely a gov't set up" or "he's a rapist". As you can imagine, this is not my style.
Generally a sting is going to involve catching him in the act (or about to perform it) - but I recognize that the US government wants to stop Cody Wilson from his gun activism (and he's been embroiled in legal battles surrounding it, bringing about 1st and 2nd amendment defenses).
I do believe it is totally possible he was set up (entrapment). I don't know it the same way I don't know anything without evidence. But it's absolutely possible.
That being said, since he knows the government would love any excuse to lock him up, I think this was kind of a stupid thing to do (ignoring the age part - just the concept of hooking up with some woman from a sugar daddy site).
I have no moral issue with someone paying for sex, provided that it is consensual. So he may be legally guilty of the "crime" of paying for sex but I would defend him against that being a problem because I don't believe it should be a crime. He's not being charged for that, however.
I do not know if Wilson is or was aware what verification is done to confirm the women on the website are over the age of 18 (though the website uses claims like "verified" and "certified" for members, turns out that means NOTHING).
Since the "sexual assault" being charged isn't actually non-consensual sexual activity but rather the government claiming she wasn't old enough to consent, while she identified herself and claimed to be over the age of 18 (on a site that claims to verify its members), I don't really feel completely comfortable putting the fault totally on him for taking her word for it.
I know I tend to take an unpopular (in some circles) position of believing that people who are 16/17 are capable of consenting. I know I was at that age - and the majority of states in the US have age of consent laws of either 16 or 17. A quick look online shows: 11 states are 18+, 8 states are 17+, the rest are 16+.
I spent most of my teenage years pretending I was over 18 online. I was on Friendster at 15. I wasn't going online for sex (though I was capable of sexual consent if I wanted to have it), but I am aware enough that a young woman going on a website that is FOR dating-for-money, and intentionally claiming to be over 18 in order to use that website, is a young woman who believes herself to be capable of giving consent, and I don't wish to deny her that agency.
For Wilson's part - I have no issue with a man having mutually consensually sex with someone he believes to be at or over the age of 18.
Of COURSE if he actually sexually assaulted her (as in sexual activity without her consent - consent being something I believe she at 16 has the ability to give or withdraw), or if he was attempting to kidnap her or traffick her, then of course that would be wrong and he can fuck off to hell. But there has been neither evidence nor even a claim that he was. Just the technicality of what the government says women her age are allowed to consent to.
My commentary here has nothing to do with his popularity within libertarian circles for his gun rights activism (besides the fact that I'm aware of him because of it). I don't know him personally, I can't comment on him and if he's a great guy or an asshole (as a person or a businessman).
I believe in having a nuanced perspective but ultimately a principled one: and I'm not yet aware that Cody Wilson has done anything against my principles (of agency or of non-aggression).
I don't need to stand "with" or "against" him. I'm standing with my principles, and as long as he hasn't defied them, we're good.
I will continue to keep an eye on the case, as more information regarding his behavior could make him guilty or not of harm. I'll may try to update this post as things come to light.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I don't know if it changes anyone's minds, or if people who maybe didn't know certain details might benefit from the overview, I've just seen too many quick takes and felt like taking the time to dive in on the subject, as many people have also tagged me on threads on the topic.
...this is a cross-post from my personal Facebook which you can see here, but I know lots of people are no longer on FB.
...also, hi, I'm Avens O'Brien, and I've been intending to write an introduction post to Steemit, but I guess I'm just gonna start my Steemit journey with this one.