Wander Franco (Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

Rays’ Wander Franco Formally Charged With Sexual Abuse, Illicit Migrant Smuggling And Human Trafficking

Wander Franco (Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)
Wander Franco (Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

TAMPA, Fla. – Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco has been formally charged with sexual abuse and exploitation of a minor, along with illicit migrant smuggling and human trafficking, the Ministerio Público announced in a press release.

The charges stem from allegations that surfaced in August 2023 regarding Franco’s alleged relationship with a 14-year-old girl.

“Serious charges, very concerning,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash. “Probably best that I don’t comment much past that and keep our focus on this team.”

According to prosecutors, the 23-year-old infielder provided the girl’s mother with cash payments and a car in exchange for her consenting to the relationship. The victim’s mother has been charged as well.

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“The file indicates that Franco Aybar’s conduct violates the provisions of Principle V, of articles 25, 396 literals B and C, 409 and 410, that of law 136-03, which is the Code for the Protection System of the Fundamental Rights of Boys, Girls and Adolescents, articles 265, 266 and 331 of the Dominican Penal Code, as well as articles 3 of Law 137-03 on Illicit Smuggling of Migrants and Human Trafficking,” said the Ministerio Público in the release.

Franco was arrested and subsequently placed on administrative leave by Major League Baseball (MLB). He has maintained his innocence throughout the legal process.

The case has drawn widespread attention in both the United States and the Dominican Republic, given Franco’s prominence as a rising star in Major League Baseball. The Rays organization has offered its full cooperation with the investigation.

Dominican authorities are continuing to investigate the matter and have expressed their commitment to upholding the rights of the victim and ensuring justice is served.

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