Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic – Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco is awaiting a ruling from a judge after being arrested in his native Dominican Republic. Prosecutors have presented evidence alleging that the MLB All-Star had a relationship with a 14-year-old girl and provided her mother with financial payments and a car in exchange for consent to the relationship. Charges against Franco include “commercial sexual exploitation” and money laundering.
The options for Friday’s ruling include releasing the 22-year-old Franco on bond, temporarily arresting him, preventing him from leaving the Dominican Republic, or requiring regular appearances until the investigation or trial has concluded. Franco has been in jail since his arrest on Monday.
Franco’s arrest stems from his failure to appear at summons in late December. He met with prosecutors on Monday morning to address the accusations, accompanied by his attorneys. Prosecutors accuse Franco of taking the minor away from her home and having a four-month relationship with her with consent from the girl’s mother.
In September 2023, authorities raided the girl’s mother’s home and seized 800,000 Dominican pesos ($13,700) and $68,500 in cash, as well as a certificate from a local bank for 2.1 million Dominican pesos ($36,000), which they claim Franco delivered for the “commercial and sexual exploitation” of the girl. Additionally, a Suzuki Swift worth $26,600 was seized, and authorities noted that days before the car was bought, the teenager’s mother had $821 in her bank account.
Prosecutors also allege that Franco’s mother made cash payments to the girl’s mother, although she has not yet been charged. The Tampa Bay Rays declined to comment on the recent developments.
There have been at least two legal actions filed against Franco, and a third person has accused him of improper behavior without pursuing legal action. The Dominican authorities and Major League Baseball (MLB) are conducting separate investigations into the allegations. Franco was placed on MLB’s Restricted List in August after the initial accusations surfaced on social media. The Rays supported the league’s efforts to understand the situation and have refrained from further comment.
Franco, who signed an 11-year extension worth $182 million with the Rays in November 2021, participated in the MLB All-Star Game last summer.
In summary, Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco is awaiting a judge’s ruling after being arrested in the Dominican Republic over allegations of a relationship with a minor. Prosecutors have accused Franco of “commercial sexual exploitation” and money laundering. Investigations by both Dominican authorities and MLB are ongoing.