Tampa Bay Rays SS Wander Franco accused of sexually abusing a minor

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco has been formally charged with sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of a minor in the Dominican Republic.

Puerto Plata District Attorney Kelmin Duncan and Nairobi Attorney General’s Office spokesman Viloria confirmed to ESPN’s Juan Recio that they filed the formal charges against Franco on Tuesday, four days after the original July 5 deadline passed.

Franco has been under investigation since July 10, 2023, after a complaint was filed against him for allegedly having sexual relations with a 14-year-old girl.

Franco was initially charged by Dominican prosecutors with commercial sexual exploitation and money laundering on Jan. 3; the girl’s mother, who was 14 when the alleged relationship began in December 2022, faced the same charges. Six days later, after further review of the evidence, a judge in the Dominican Republic instead charged Franco with a lesser charge of sexual and psychological abuse.

In a nearly 600-page document obtained by ESPN and presented to the judge at a hearing in January, prosecutors shared evidence they uncovered in their investigation of Franco. The dossier includes transcripts of interviews with the girl and her family members and messages between Franco and the girl.

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association recently extended Franco’s administrative leave through July 14, a procedural measure to buy more time while Dominican authorities work on the criminal case.

MLB has launched a separate investigation into Franco, which is not expected to be completed until his criminal case is resolved.

Franco, 23, agreed to an 11-year, $182 million contract extension in November 2021 after just 70 games in his Major League career.

This report used information from ESPN’s Jeff Passan and Alden Gonzalez.

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