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Wander Franco, Rays’ Star, to Be Seen Before Judge in Dominican Republic as His Fate Hangs in the Balance

An order for the conditional release of Wander Franco, the shortstop of the Tampa Bay Rays, was issued by a Dominican judge on Friday amid an investigation into an alleged involvement with a 14-year-old girl. 

Franco, who has been detained since Monday, was taken into custody after failing to attend a meeting with law enforcement last week. Subsequently, he disregarded a summons to appear and respond to inquiries from prosecutors following the retention of new legal representatives. 

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco, center, is led by police to the courtroom in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic on Friday, Jan. 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Hernández)

The judge directed Wander to be allowed to depart the country but stipulated his monthly obligation to meet with authorities. Following the conclusion of Friday’s hearing, the 22-year-old baseball luminary did not engage with reporters. 

Dominican prosecutors have leveled accusations of engaging in commercial sexual exploitation and money laundering against Franco, stemming from allegations of a relationship with a minor, with charges commensurately faced by the minor’s mother.

Wander has also been directed to submit a deposit of two million Dominican pesos, equivalent to $34,000. 

The All-Star baseball player is confronted with charges of commercial sexual exploitation and money laundering. The mother of the 14-year-old is confined to house arrest, as per the Associated Press. 

Prosecutors sought an $86,000 bond for Franco, alongside restrictions on departing the Dominican Republic and placement under house arrest. They explained that the money laundering charges are based on allegations of Franco providing financial compensation to the minor’s mother.

The presiding judge was presented with several options for a ruling in the case: release Franco on bond, temporary detention, prevention from leaving the country, or imposition of intermittent appearance requirements until the conclusion of the investigation or trial. 

“The measures petitioned by the Public Ministry serve to safeguard the integrity of the judicial procedure,” the ministry remarked in a statement.

RELATED: Wander Franco to Remain in Detention in Dominican Republic until Friday’s Hearing

On Wednesday, prosecutors presented evidence to a judge who is anticipated to deliver a determination on Franco’s future.

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - AUGUST 12: Wander Franco #5 of the Tampa Bay Rays observes during the ninth inning against the Cleveland Guardians at Tropicana Field on August 12, 2023 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – AUGUST 12: Wander Franco #5 of the Tampa Bay Rays observes during the ninth inning against the Cleveland Guardians at Tropicana Field on August 12, 2023 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

The decree was issued in a courtroom in the northern Dominican Republic province of Puerto Plata, where the alleged offense transpired. 

PREVIOUS: Report: Dominican Authorities Seek Location of Rays Star Wander Franco

Although authorities have not disclosed specific details of the case, prosecutors announced on August 14 that Franco was being investigated based on social media posts implying his involvement with a minor. The authenticity of the mentioned posts has not been substantiated by the AP.

Franco made his All-Star debut earlier this season. He sealed an $182 million contract extension for 11 years in November 2021, with the potential to reach $233 million upon the deal’s conclusion due to a team option in 2033.

Operating under its collective domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse policy with the players’ association, Major League Baseball placed Franco on administrative leave in August. During this period, he was remunerated and accrued service time.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 



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