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Tampa Bay Rays Baseball Star Franco Formally Charged with Rape of Minor, Human Trafficking

Tampa Bay Rays slugger Wander Franco, once considered the top young prospect in baseball, has been formally accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in the Dominican Republic.

The allegations that Franco had an inappropriate relationship with a minor surfaced last August. MLB placed him on administrative leave with pay. He has not played for the Rays since, and the allegations end his pay and service time accrual. Franco was in the third year of an 11-year, $182 million contract.

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Franco, 23, was an All-Star in 2023. Before the allegations that ended his season, he had a .281 average, 17 home runs and 58 RBIs.

Nairobi Viloria, a spokeswoman for the Dominican Attorney General’s Office, confirmed to The Associated Press on Tuesday that prosecutors had presented a final and formal charge to a judge.

The indictment includes the girl’s mother. Prosecutors said Franco paid her thousands of dollars to submit to the abuse, which reportedly lasted four months. The girl’s mother remains under house arrest and faces money laundering charges.

The AP is not revealing the woman’s identity to protect her daughter’s privacy.

Franco is charged with rape, which carries a sentence of 10 to 15 years in prison, and human trafficking, which in the Dominican Republic is punishable by 15 to 20 years in prison.

“We are aware of the allegations against Mr. Franco,” MLB said in a statement Wednesday. “Our investigation remains open and we will continue to closely monitor this matter as it develops.”

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