MLB All-Star Charged with Sexual Exploitation Against a Minor

MLB All-Star Charged with Sexual Exploitation Against a Minor

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco has been officially charged with sexual abuse and sexual exploitation against a minor.

The charges, filed in the Dominican Republic, cap an investigation that began on July 10, 2023, when allegations surfaced that Franco had a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl, according to ESPN.

“We are aware of the charges against Mr. Franco,” MLB, which has its own investigation into Franco underway, said in a statement.

“Our investigation remains open, and we will continue to closely monitor the case as it moves forward,” the statement said.

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Franco, 23, was an All-Star for Tampa who signed an 11-year, $182 million contract extension in November 2021.

The girl’s mother was also charged with money laundering and is under house arrest, according to the Associated Press.

Prosecutors claimed Franco paid the girl’s mother during the four months of his alleged relationship with the girl.

Will Wander Franco ever play professional baseball again?

“I mean, ultimately, serious charges, very concerning,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said Wednesday.

“Probably best that I don’t comment much past that and keep our focus on this team,” he said.

Franco was placed on baseball’s restricted list after the charges, ending the pay he had been getting while on administrative leave. He had been getting 50 percent of his $2 million salary.

Franco has an Aug. 14 hearing.

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“Only the relevance of the evidence will be determined and whether it merits consideration in a trial,” Dominican criminal lawyer Francisco Manuel Lazala said, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

“Otherwise, the court may dismiss the case if it finds the evidence irrelevant. We understand there is a high likelihood this case will proceed to a trial, where Wander Franco’s guilt or innocence will be determined.”

Teodosio Jáquez Encarnación, Franco’s lawyer, said his client will not face a trial.

“Everything will fall apart, because Wander is not linked to the charges against him,” he said.


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