Dominican baseball player faces judge amid accusations of relationship with a girl

PUERTO PLATA.- Wander Francoshort field Dominican of the Tampa Bay Raysappeared in a court of Dominican Republic to face charges that he had a brief relationship with a 14-year-old girl and gave her mother a small car and thousands of dollars in exchange for her consent, according to court documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The 22-year-old All-Star is accused of commercial sexual exploitation and money laundering. A judge who is scheduled to rule on the case on Friday has several options: release Franco on bail, temporarily arrest him, prevent him from leaving Dominican Republic or require him to make occasional appearances until the investigation or a trial is completed.

The girl’s mother faces the same charges as Franco. The AP is not releasing the woman’s name in order to preserve the privacy of her minor daughter.

Frank, who was arrested on Monday in the northern province of Puerto Plata, has not been charged with any crime. The judge received a nearly 600-page document detailing evidence prosecutors gathered during a months-long investigation.

The ballplayer’s lawyers have not commented beyond noting that Franco was “good”.

Prosecutors said the investigation began after they received an anonymous tip from someone who learned about the relationship from a post they saw on social media. AP has not been able to verify the reported post.

The authorities accuse Franco of taking the minor from her home in Puerto Plata in December 2022 and of having had a four-month relationship with her with the consent of the girl’s mother.

Franco is accused of sending the mother monthly payments of $1,700 for seven months and to buy her a car “to allow the relationship and let her go out with him wherever she wanted,” according to the document, which cites the girl.

In September 2023, authorities raided the home of the girl’s mother and confiscated 800,000 Dominican pesos ($13,700), as well as $68,500 that they said They were hidden behind a painting. They also found a guarantee certificate from a local bank for an amount of 2.1 million Dominican pesos ($36,000) which, they said, was delivered by Franco for the “commercial and sexual exploitation” of the girl.

Additionally, they confiscated a Suzuki Swift with a value of $26,600, according to the document. Authorities indicated that days before purchasing the car, the girl’s mother had the equivalent of $821 in her bank account.

Authorities also claim that Franco’s mother sent money to the girl’s mother, but she has not been charged in the case even though they said she became avoid traces of his son”.

Silence from the Rays star:

Franco arrived at the court in Puerto Plata on Friday morning and He remained silent as he was escorted through a group of journalists who bombarded him with questions. The girl’s mother, who was wearing sunglasses, also declined to comment as she was escorted to the courtroom.

Outside, a small group of Dominican children dressed in baseball uniforms gathered to support Franco, carrying signs that read “Free Franco” and “We are all Franco”.

The Big leagues They placed the player on administrative leave in August under their joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy with the players’ association. He gets paid and receives service time while he is on leave.

There is no timetable to conclude the investigation of the MLB and whether the results could lead to disciplinary action by the commissioner’s office.