Wander Franco is due to appear in court on August 14 after being accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco is due in court on Aug. 14 after being accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl in the Dominican Republic, authorities said Wednesday.

Prosecutors filed multiple charges against Franco six months after a judge ordered an investigation into him over sexual and psychological abuse of the girl.

Nairobi Viloria, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, confirmed to The Associated Press that prosecutors have filed formal charges before a 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 against Franco 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 has remained in the Dominican Republic while authorities investigate. Since January, he has been required to make monthly check-ups with the court. In April, he requested that the visits be suspended, which the judge denied.

Franco, 23, 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 taken place.

“I mean, ultimately, serious allegations, very concerning,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said before the team’s game on Wednesday. “It’s probably best that I don’t say much more about it and that we continue to focus on this team.”

MLB has placed Franco, who is earning a $2 million salary this year, on the restricted list, revoking the salary he received while on administrative leave.

He had received 50% of his salary during that leave, a person familiar with his situation told the AP, speaking on condition of anonymity because that detail has not been made public. That meant Franco had accrued $559,140, ​​or half his salary for 104 days of the 186-day season.

Franco will also not receive any penalty time as long as he remains on the restricted list. This placement is not considered a disciplinary measure.

“We are aware of the charges against Mr. Franco,” MLB said in a statement. “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 an 11-year, $182 million contract in 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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AP baseball reporter Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this report.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

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