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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Rays’ Wander Franco Alleged Sex Abuse of Minor, Family Bribes Rock Dom. Rep.

'I took the risk and I loved it...'

(Luis CornelioHeadline USA) Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco appeared before a federal judge in the Dominican Republic over sickening allegations he sexually exploited an underage child and paid thousands in laundered money to the child’s mother in exchange for her consent. 

The news of these alleged crimes sent shockwaves through the small Caribbean Island nation, renowned for producing some of the world’s most famous baseball players. Local authorities estimate that the baseball player paid the family several thousand dollars to maintain silence and evade criminal prosecution. 

Franco, aged 23, made his MLB debut in 2021, becoming an All-Star in 2023. According to an MLB press release, he received a $182 million contract with the Rays in 2021. He has been placed on administrative leave pending the sexual exploitation criminal investigation.

The ordeal started when Franco allegedly began a relationship with a 14-year-old girl from the Dominican Republic in 2023. While the age of consent is 18, he allegedly bribed the girl’s mother in exchange for permission for the relationship. 

Prosecutors said that the payments exchanged for consent are deemed as instances involving both money laundering and the exploitation of individuals in a sexual context.

Federal prosecutors conducted a raid on the girl’s mother’s residence, where they discovered several thousand dollars, which they claim was part of a significant money laundering scheme originating from the bribes.

A federal judge mandated Franco to post bail of approximately $37,000 ($2,000,000 in Dominican pesos). Additionally, he was instructed to make regular appearances before the judge. The mother of the child (pictured in the tweet below), who allegedly received the bribes, has been placed under house arrest pending the trial.

Local media reported that the relationship, spanning four months, ended when Franco started dating someone else. The details of this relationship surfaced when the heartbroken underage girl took to social media, accusing Franco of being a pedophile and exploiting underage girls in the Dominican Republic.

The social media scandal triggered a federal investigation. Subsequent interviews uncovered that the girl grew weary as she realized her mother was utilizing Franco to exploit money and was not sharing any of the alleged extorted money with her. 

According to local outlet Telemicro, disturbing WhatsApp messages, reportedly obtained by federal prosecutors from Franco’s phone, suggest his alleged manipulation of the girl, instructing her not to date anyone besides himself. 

“You’re just a girl and you don’t know how to get along with me, that’s why you failed. But I’ll give you one chance, you should be just for me, don’t look at anyone else,” Franco reportedly said in Spanish text messages.

In another text, Franco allegedly expressed his desire to “raise” the girl and have her “forget everything” her family taught her. In a third WhatsApp message, Franco allegedly admitted that his relationship with the underage would kill his career. “I took the risk and I loved it,” he told the girl.

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