Tampa Bay Rays SS Wander Franco charged with sexual abuse against a minor

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

The Puerto Plata District Office Prosecutor Kelmin Duncan and the spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office Nairobi Viloria confirmed to ESPN they presented the formal accusation against Franco on Tuesday.

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

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

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

MLB launched a separate investigation into Franco that is not expected to be completed until after his criminal case is resolved. MLB and the MLBPA can agree once again to extend Franco’s leave if a resolution doesn’t occur before July 14. Franco can also be taken off administrative leave and face discipline if MLB gathers enough information before then.

Information from ESPN’s Juan Recio was used in this report.


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