Rays shortstop Wander Franco formally charged with sexually abusing 14-year-old girl

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco has been formally charged with sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl in the Dominican Republic.

Prosecutors filed multiple charges against Franco six months after a judge made a ruling. ordered that he be examined in connection with sexual and psychological abuse of the girl.

Nairobi Viloria, spokesman for the attorney general’s office, confirmed to the Associated Press on Tuesday that prosecutors have submitted the final and formal charges to the judge.

The charges also include the girl’s mother. Prosecutors say Franco paid the girl’s mother thousands of dollars to consent to the abuse, which lasted four months. The girl’s mother remains under house arrest and is accused of money laundering.

AP is not releasing the woman’s identity to protect her daughter’s privacy.

The most serious charges Franco faces are rape, which could carry sentences of 10 to 15 years in prison, and human trafficking, which is punishable by sentences of 15 to 20 years in the Dominican Republic.

Franco, who has a salary of $2 million this year, has remained in the Dominican Republic while authorities investigate. He has been required to make monthly check-in visits with the court since January. In April, he requested that the visits be suspended, which the judge denied.

Franco will be tried in a court in the province of Puerto Plata, in the north of the country, where the incidents are said to have occurred.

Franco, 23, is on administrative leave until July 14 under an agreement between Major League Baseball and the players’ association.

Administrative leave is not disciplinary under the sport’s joint policy on domestic violence, sexual abuse and child abuse. Players will continue to receive their salaries.

“We are aware of the charges against Mr. Franco,” MLB said in a statement Wednesday. “Our investigation is ongoing and we will continue to closely monitor the case as it progresses.”

Tampa Bay’s All-Star shortstop hasn’t played since Aug. 12. Franco agreed to a $182 million, 11-year contract november 2021.

Jay Reisinger, Franco’s U.S. attorney, said Tuesday he could not comment because Franco had not received formal notice of any charges.


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