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

Wander Franco

Tampa Bay Rays Dominican baseball shortstop Wander Franco, who faces an accusation of molesting an underage girl, arrives in court under heavy escort in Puerto Plata, in Dominican Republic, on January 5, 2024. The hearing was being held behind closed doors and Franco, 22, who is eligible for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in the 2023 season, did not make a statement before entering. The baseball player and the mother of the 15-year-old girl were charged with “the crimes of commercial sexual exploitation and money laundering.” (Photo by AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)

STR/AFP via Getty Images

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

The prosecutors decided to press charges four days after the initial deadline expired on July 5, six months after a judge ordered that Franco be investigated in connection with sexual and psychological abuse of the minor.

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 she declined to provide further details.

The indictment also includes the minor’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.

Franco, 23, is on administrative leave by Major League Baseball and the player’s association through July 14.

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

Tampa Bay’s All-Star shortstop has not played since Aug. 12 while MLB continues its investigation into an alleged relationship with a minor.

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 his native Dominican Republic while authorities there investigate.

Franco agreed to an 11-year, $182 million contract in November 2021.