Tampa Bay Rays Baseball Star Wander Franco Formally Charged with Child Rape, 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 an inappropriate relationship between Franco and a minor surfaced last August. MLB placed him on paid administrative leave. He has not played for the Rays since then, and the allegations terminate his salary and service time accrual. Franco was in the third year of an 11-year, $182 million contract.

Franco, 23, was an All-Star in 2023. He was hitting .281 with 17 homers and 58 RBIs before the charges that ended his season.

Nairobi Viloria, a spokeswoman for the Dominican Republic's attorney general's office, confirmed to The Associated Press on Tuesday that prosecutors had presented the final, formal charge to a judge.

The indictment includes the girl's mother. Prosecutors say Franco paid her thousands of dollars to get her to consent to the abuse, which allegedly 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 protect her daughter's privacy.

Franco is accused of rape, for which he faces prison sentences of 10 to 15 years, and human trafficking, which in the Dominican Republic carries a sentence of 15 to 20 years.

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

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