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Tampa Bay Rays Baseball Star Wander Franco Indicted on Rape and Human Trafficking Charges of a Minor

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco, once considered baseball’s top young prospect, has been charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in the Dominican Republic.

Allegations of Franco’s inappropriate relationship with a minor emerged last August. MLB placed him on paid administrative leave. He has not played for the Rays since, and the charges end his salary and service time accrual. Franco was in the third year of an 11-year, $182 million contract.

Franco, 23, was set to be an All-Star in 2023. He had a . 281 batting average, 17 home runs and 58 RBIs before the charges that ended his season.

Nairobi Viloria, a spokeswoman for the Dominican Republic’s attorney general’s office, confirmed to The Associated Press on Tuesday that prosecutors had submitted the final, formal charge to a judge.

The indictment also names the girl’s mother, who prosecutors say Franco paid her thousands of dollars to consent to the abuse, which reportedly lasted four months. The girl’s mother remains under house arrest and faces money laundering charges.

The AP is not identifying the woman to protect her daughter’s privacy.

Franco faces a rape charge, which could carry a sentence of 10 to 15 years in prison, and a human trafficking charge, which is punishable by 15 to 20 years in prison in the Dominican Republic.

“We are aware of the allegations against Mr. Franco,” MLB said in a statement Wednesday. “Our investigation remains open and we will continue to monitor the case closely as it progresses.”