MLB News

Prosecutors accuse Rays shortstop Wander Franco of commercial sexual exploitation, money laundering

Prosecutors requested that a judge hold Franco on an $86,000 bond, bar him from leaving the Dominican Republic and place him under house arrest

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Aug 6, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco (5) receives congratulations from teammates after scoring in the sixth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Dominican prosecutors on Wednesday accused Wander Franco of commercial sexual exploitation and money laundering following allegations that the Tampa Bay Rays shortstop had a relationship with a minor whose mother also faces the same charges.

Prosecutors requested that a judge hold Franco on an $86,000 bond, bar him from leaving the Dominican Republic and place him under house arrest. They noted the money laundering charges stems from allegations that Franco made payments to the minor’s mother.

Prosecutors also asked that the judge prohibit the minor’s mother from leaving the country and place her under house arrest.

“These measures requested by the Public Ministry seek to guarantee the integrity of the process,” the ministry said in a statement.

Prosecutors on Wednesday also delivered evidence to a judge who is expected to soon rule on Franco's future.

The judge is scheduled to analyze the documents and other evidence collected during a monthslong investigation and issue a ruling Friday in a courtroom in the northern Dominican Republic province of Puerto Plata, where the alleged act occurred.

The judge has several options: release Franco on bond, temporarily arrest him, prevent him from leaving the Dominican Republic or demand that he make occasional appearances until the investigation or a trial has ended.

The 22-year-old All-Star player remains in jail for now after being detained on Monday in Puerto Plata.

His attorney, Teodosio Jáquez Encarnación, has declined to talk to media, saying only that Franco is doing fine.

Prosecutors also have declined comment.

Authorities have not shared details of the case, although prosecutors said on Aug. 14 that Franco was being investigated because of social media postings suggesting he had a relationship with a minor. The AP has not been able to verify the reported posts.

On Dec. 26, police and prosecutors visited two of Franco’s properties located in his hometown of Baní, just southwest of the capital of Santo Domingo, but the player was not there.

On Dec. 28, a prosecutor requested that Franco appear, but he did not do so until Monday, when he was detained following a nearly three-hour interview.

Major League Baseball placed Franco on administrative leave in August under its the joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy with the players’ association. He was paid and received service time while on leave.

There is no timetable for a conclusion of the MLB's investigation and whether the results might lead to discipline by the the commissioner's office.

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