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Rays’ Wander Franco charged with sexual abuse of a minor in the Dominican Republic

Rays’ Wander Franco charged with sexual abuse of a minor in the Dominican Republic

The MLB leave of absence for Tampa Bay Rays infielder Wander Franco runs through Sunday. File photo by Steve Nesius/UPI

1 of 5 | Tampa Bay Rays infielder Wander Franco’s MLB administrative leave runs through Sunday. File photo by Steve Nesius/UPI | Licensed photo

July 10 (UPI) – Prosecutors have filed charges against Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco for 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 of a minor – were filed on Tuesday in the Dominican province of Puerta Plata.

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

Franco’s U.S.-based attorney, Jay Reisinger, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the allegations. MLB, whose investigation into the allegations is ongoing, extended Franco’s leave of absence in May. It runs through Sunday.

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

MLB placed the Rays infielder on administrative leave last August. He was arrested in Puerto Plata in January for failing to comply with a subpoena while facing charges of commercial sexual exploitation and money laundering. Those charges were later dropped.

The girl’s mother is still facing these charges after allegedly receiving thousands of dollars from Franco for her consent to the relationship between her daughter and the baseball star.

Franco, who denied the charges last year, was released on probation but must report to a judge on a monthly basis. The man, from Bani, Dominican Republic, faces up to five years in prison if found guilty of the current charges.

Franco, 23, signed an 11-year, $182 million contract extension in 2021. He will continue to receive 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 policies.

Franco’s salary is set to rise to $8.4 million in 2025, $15.4 million in 2026 and $22.4 million in 2027. From 2028 to 2032, he is set to earn an annual salary of at least $25 million, with a club option for 2033.

Franco, an All-Star in 2023, had a .281 batting average with 17 home runs, 58 RBIs and 30 stolen bases in 112 games when he was put on leave last year. The Rays still finished 99-63 despite their star’s time off and made the playoffs in 2023.

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

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