Sports

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

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — (AP) — Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco was formally charged Tuesday with sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl in the Dominican Republic.

Prosecutors charged 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 before a judge the final and formal accusation, but Viloria declined to provide further details.

The indictment also includes the girl’s mother. According to prosecutors, Franco paid the girl’s mother thousands of dollars to consent to the relationship, which lasted four months. The girl’s mother remains under house arrest. The AP is not identifying the woman to preserve her daughter’s privacy.

The prosecutors decided to press charges four days after the initial deadline expired on July 5.

Franco, 23, is on administrative leave through July 14 under an agreement between Major League Baseball and the players' association.

Administrative leave is not disciplinary under the sport’s joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy, and a player continues to be paid. Franco, who has a $2 million salary this year, has remained in the Dominican Republic while authorities investigate.

“We are aware of the charges against Mr. Franco," MLB said in a statement Wednesday. "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.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

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