A shortstop for the Tampa Bay Rays recently appeared in a Dominican court after he was accused of having a brief relationship with a 14-year-old girl and providing her mother with a small car and thousands of dollars in exchange for her consent, according to the Associated Press.
Wander Franco, 22, has been accused of money laundering and commercial sexual exploitation.
Though Franco has been accused of the crimes, the report noted that the judge who is overseeing the case has four options in how to deal with Franco in the meantime: “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 teen girl’s mother is facing the same charges as Franco, per the report. The woman’s identity was not revealed, so as to keep the underage girl’s identity private.
Franco — who was detained on Monday — has not yet been charged with any crimes. However, the judge has received a 600-page document that apparently details the evidence the prosecutors gathered during an investigation that lasted a month, according to CBS News.
An anonymous tip provided to the authorities in July 2023 is what eventually ignited the investigation. The anonymous individual said that they had seen a media post that alluded to the possibility that Franco was in a relationship with the 14-year-old girl.
The authorities have also suggested Franco took the underage girl away from her home in Puerto Plata in December 2022 and had a four-month relationship with her. The girl’s mother reportedly gave consent for the relationship to continue, according to reports.
Prosecutors said Franco had sent the mother of the girl monthly payments of $1,700 for seven straight months and purchased her a vehicle “in order to allow the relationship and let her go out with him wherever she wanted,” according to the document that quoted the underage girl.
The underage girl went on to say that she had demanded a local digital media site publish details about her relationship with Franco after she became “tired” of her mother. The girl accused her mother of taking the money given by Franco and not sharing any of it with her.
The authorities raided the mother’s home last September, ultimately discovering 800,000 Dominican pesos, which is worth about $13,700. They also discovered another $68,500 that was hidden behind a frame, according to reports.
A separate seizure at a different location discovered a guarantee certificate from a local bank for 2.1 million Dominican pesos ($36,000) that was apparently tied to payments provided by Franco for the purposes of sexually exploiting the teen girl.
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