Rays' Wander Franco charged with sexual abuse against minor in Dominican Republic

Tampa Bay Rays infielder Wander Franco's term on MLB administrative leave runs through Sunday. File Photo by Steve Nesius/UPI
1 of 5 | Tampa Bay Rays infielder Wander Franco's term on MLB administrative leave runs through Sunday. File Photo by Steve Nesius/UPI | License Photo

July 10 (UPI) -- Prosecutors formally charged Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco with sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl in the Dominican Republic.

Sources told ESPN, Listin Diario and Diario Libre that the charges -- sexual abuse and sexual exploitation against a minor -- were presented Tuesday in the Dominican province of Puerta Plata.


Franco has been under investigation since last July after a complaint was issued against him for the alleged sexual relationship with the minor.

Franco's U.S.-based lawyer, Jay Reisinger, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the charges. MLB, which has an open investigation into the allegations, extended Franco's administrative leave in May. That term runs through Sunday.

The Rays had no comment on the formal charges filed against Franco.

MLB placed the Rays infielder on administrative leave last August. He was arrested in January in Puerto Plata for failing to appear on a summons, while facing allegations of commercial sexual exploitation and money laundering. Those charges were later dismissed.

The girl's mother still faces those charges after allegedly receiving thousands of dollars from Franco in exchange for her consent in the relationship between her daughter and the baseball star.


Franco, who denied the allegations last year, was released on parole, but has been required to return for monthly visits with a judge. The Bani, D.R., native faces up to five years in prison if found guilty if his current charges.

Franco, 23, signed an 11-year, $182 million contract extension in 2021. He still is receiving his $2.4 million salary for 2024 under the terms of MLB's administrative leave, which is not disciplinary under the league's domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy.

Franco's salary is scheduled to escalate to $8.4 million in 2025, $15.4 million in 2026 and $22.4 million in 2027. He is scheduled to make at least $25 million in annual salary from 2028 through 2032, with a club option for 2033.

Franco, an All-Star in 2023, was hitting .281 with 17 home runs, 58 RBIs and 30 stolen bases through 112 games when he was placed on leave last year. The Rays still went 99-63 and made the playoffs in 2023, despite their star's hiatus.

They have a 44-46 record and sit in fourth place in the American League East this season, 12 games behind the division-leading Baltimore Orioles (57-34). Rays shortstop Jose Caballero hit .241 with six home runs, 24 RBIs and 24 stolen bases through his first 75 games this season.


The Rays will host the New York Yankees at 6:50 p.m. EDT Wednesday in St. Petersburg, Fla.

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