Thu. Feb 22nd, 2024

PUERTO PLATA, Dominican Republic — Wander Franco appeared for the first time at the Unit for Violence Care and Prevention as part of his required monthly check-in as authorities in his home country continue their investigation into allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a minor.

And the Rays shortstop will return to court Feb. 8.

The minor is giving advance testimony so if Franco is charged, she won’t have to appear at trial. Franco is alleged to have started a four-month relationship with her in December 2022. He was 21 at the time, she was 14.

Franco, now 22, faces accusations of sexual and psychological abuse and abduction of a minor. A judge on Jan. 9 dismissed earlier accusations of money laundering and sexual exploitation. Authorities have until July 5 to formally charge Franco. The mandatory check-ins, through June, stem from Franco being detained Jan. 1 for failing to respond to a summons to speak to prosecutors.

The teen’s mother, who has been accused of money laundering due to payments she allegedly received from Franco, is under house arrest. She did not respond to a Tampa Bay Times reporter who reached out in person at her home in Villa Montellano, 10 miles south of Puerto Plata. A woman at the home, who did not identify herself, said “they have nothing to fear.”

Major League Baseball also is investigating Franco for potential violations of the Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy. The league has the power to suspend him but is unlikely to take action before the Dominican legal process is resolved.

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