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Rays' Wander Franco is formally charged with sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl

Wander Franco watches from the Tampa Bay Rays dugout during the fifth inning of a game against the Cleveland Guardians Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023, in St. Petersburg.
Chris O'Meara
/
AP
Wander Franco watches from the Tampa Bay Rays dugout during the fifth inning of a game against the Cleveland Guardians Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023, in St. Petersburg. Franco was formally charged on Tuesday by prosecutors in the Dominican Republic with sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl.

Prosecutors also say Franco paid the girl’s mother thousands of dollars to consent to the relationship, which lasted four months.

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco is scheduled to go to trial Aug. 14 after being charged with sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl in the Dominican Republic, authorities said Wednesday.

Prosecutors filed multiple charges against Franco six months after a judge ordered that he be investigated in connection with sexual and psychological abuse of the girl.

Nairobi Viloria, the attorney general's office spokesperson, confirmed to The Associated Press that prosecutors presented the formal accusation to a judge.

The indictment also includes the girl’s mother. According to prosecutors, Franco paid the girl’s mother thousands of dollars to consent to the abuse, which 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.

The most serious charges that Franco faces are 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.

Franco has remained in the Dominican Republic while authorities investigate. He has been required to make monthly monitoring visits to the court since January. In April, he requested that the visits be suspended, which the judge denied.

Franco, 23, will be tried in a court in the province of Puerto Plata, in the north of the country, where the events allegedly occurred.

“I mean, ultimately, serious charges, very concerning," Rays manager Kevin Cash said before the team's game Wednesday. "Probably best that I don’t comment much past that and keep our focus on this team.”

MLB placed Franco — who has a $2 million salary this year — on its restricted list, cutting off the pay he had been receiving under administrative leave.

He had been receiving 50% of his salary on that leave, a person familiar with his situation told the AP, speaking on condition of anonymity because that detail has not been disclosed publicly. That meant Franco accrued $559,140, or half of his salary for 104 days of the 186-day season.

Franco also will not receive service time while on the restricted list, a placement that is not considered disciplinary action.

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

Tampa Bay’s All-Star shortstop has not played since Aug. 12. Franco agreed to a $182 million, 11-year contract in November 2021.

Jay Reisinger, Franco’s U.S.-based lawyer, said Tuesday he could not comment because Franco had not received formal notification of any charges.