- Wander Franco is accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a minor
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Wander Franco’s bank accounts in the Dominican Republic have reportedly been seized as the suspended Tampa Bay Rays shortstop faces an allegation of sexual and psychological abuse of a 14-year-old girl.
As reported by Public TelevisionA source accuses Franco of violating a contract with his lawyers and refusing to pay their fees for work that has already been completed.
Franco is accused of having a relationship with the teenager and paying her mother thousands of dollars for her consent.
Originally charged with commercial and sexual exploitation and money laundering (charges that carry up to 30 years, 10 years and 20 years in prison respectively), Franco is now charged instead with sexual and psychological abuse, according to a judge’s ruling reported by The Associated Press obtained on Tuesday.
Franco has not been formally charged, but if convicted of the new charge, he could face two to five years in prison.
Wander Franco’s bank accounts seized in the Dominican Republic
Franco did not report to spring training with the Rays on Sunday, the deadline before the team’s first official full-squad workout.
According to the Tampa Bay Timesthe rest of the Rays’ position players reported for practice on Sunday before practice on Monday.
MLB’s ‘mandatory reporting date’ is February 24, giving the Rays another week before making a decision on Franco’s status for the start of the season.
The All-Star shortstop remains in the Dominican Republic and would face a battle to return to the United States as the investigation remains ongoing.
MLB players are paid from the start of the regular season and if Franco is still unavailable by then, he could be placed back on administrative leave or the restricted list.
The All-Star shortstop was due to return to court in his native Dominican Republic this month.
He will be paid $2 million this season as part of his 11-year, $182 million contract with Tampa Bay.
According to prosecutors and testimony from the girl and other members of her family, Franco paid the girl’s mother thousands of dollars in cash and other gifts in exchange for the mother’s consent to engage in a sexual relationship with her daughter.
The Code for the Protection of the Rights of Children and Adolescents, Law 136-03 in the Dominican Republic, considers sexual abuse as any relationship between a minor and a person five years older. Franco began having a relationship with the girl when she was 14 years old and he was 21.
Franco was due to return to court on February 8, when the girl was to face questioning by the judge.