Tampa Bay Rays Baseball Star Wander Franco Formally Charged With Rape Of A Minor And Human Trafficking

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco, once considered baseball’s top young prospect, has been formally charged with sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl in the Dominican Republic.

Allegations of Franco’s inappropriate relationship with a minor surfaced last August. MLB placed him on administrative leave with pay. He has not played for the Rays since then, and the charges end his pay and service time accrual. Franco was in the third year of an 11-year, $182 million contract.

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Franco, age 23, was an All-Star in 2023. He hit .281 with 17 homers and 58 RBI prior to the accusations that ended his season.

Nairobi Viloria, the Dominican Republic attorney general’s office spokesperson, confirmed to The Associated Press on Tuesday that prosecutors presented the final and formal accusation to a judge.

The indictment includes the girl’s mother. Prosecutors said Franco paid her thousands of dollars to consent to the abuse, which reportedly lasted four months. The girl’s mother remains under house arrest and faces a money laundering charge.

The AP is not identifying the woman to preserve her daughter’s privacy.

Franco faces charges of rape, for which he could receive sentences of between 10 and 15 years in prison, and human trafficking, which is punishable in the Dominican Republic by sentences of between 15 and 20 years.

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

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