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MLB player Wander Franco alleged minor abuse Manila Standard

MLB star Wander Franco appears in court on charges of abusing a minor, with the league placing him on indefinite leave.

MLB baseball star Wander Franco appeared in court in his native Dominican Republic, under police guard and in handcuffs, on charges of abusing a minor. The 22-year-old Tampa Bay Rays player made his appearance behind closed doors, telling waiting journalists during a bathroom break: "I leave everything in God's hands."

Franco is accused of having had sex with a teenaged girl over a two-day period in December 2022. They then dated for a few months with her mother's consent, according to the charge sheet. Franco allegedly paid the mother for her silence, according to prosecutors, who documented seven monthly payments of about $1,700 as well as a car. Both adults appeared in court Friday charged with "commercial sexual exploitation" of the girl, now 15, and money laundering.

In the charge sheet, the girl said Franco had given her mother a car "to compensate for the emotional damage he caused my mother by taking me from my mother's house without her consent one night." She also told investigators that since she was little, "my mother has seen me as a way for her to her make profit both from her own partners as well as mine, and it is something I really dislike." Investigators found tens of thousands of US dollars in cash at the woman's house. The girl, who was the one to report the abuse, is in the care of a relative.

Prosecutors described Franco as a flight risk and asked the court to place him under house arrest. Judge Romaldy Marcelino set bail at the equivalent of about $34,000, however, and ordered Franco to report to the court once a month while his trial is under way. The girl's mother will stay under house arrest.

Franco was one of the best players in baseball last season, blasting 17 home runs with 58 RBIs and 124 hits from 442 at-bats. Last August, the MLB placed Franco on indefinite leave as it conducts its own probe of the allegations. The league said Franco's leave period was "not punitive," and the player would continue to be paid by the Tampa Bay Rays. The club voiced support for the league's decision.

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