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Latest on investigation into All-Star’s alleged relationship with 14-year-old

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco is facing charges in the Dominican Republic over an alleged relationship with an underage girl.

Allegations of Franco’s relationship with a 14-year-old surfaced on social media in August 2023 and Dominican authorities launched an investigation. Major League Baseball placed Franco on administrative leave for the remainder of the season.

Franco is also accused of giving money to the girl’s mother, who is charged with money laundering in the case.

Franco, 22, was detained on New Year’s Day and held for a week, ultimately being released as the investigation continues.

Here’s what to know about the situation surrounding the All-Star shortstop:

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What charges is Wander Franco facing?

Franco is accused of sexual and psychological abuse, and if found guilty, could face between two and five years in prison. Authorities initially sought to have Franco charged with commercial and sexual exploitation and money laundering, but a judge recommended the lesser charge after reviewing evidence.

In the decision, Judge Romaldy Marcelino said prosecutors gave the case more serious treatment because of Franco’s status as an MLB player.

Is Wander Franco in jail?

Franco was released from a jail in Puerto Plata after being detained for a week at the beginning of January. He is allowed to leave the Dominican Republic but has to check in with authorities once a month during the investigation and had to pay about $34,000 as a deposit for his release.

Wander Franco alleged to have paid girl’s mother

Franco is accused of sending the girl’s mother monthly payments and buying her a car.

In his decision on the lesser charges, the judge said that the money paid to the teen’s mother cannot be considered payment for the girl’s alleged services – since the mother requested money after finding out about their relationship.

Wander Franco contract made history

Franco signed an 11-year, $182 million contract extension with the Rays before the 2022 season, having played just 70 games in the majors. The then-20-year-old Franco’s deal included an option for a 12th year for a total of $223 million.

Franco’s contract is the largest ever issued by the Tampa Bay organization.

Franco will remain on paid administrative leave as the investigations continue.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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