A special prosecutor in the Dominican Republic is investigating Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco over a third allegedly inappropriate relationship with a minor, according to ESPN.
The first complaint against Franco was reportedly filed July 17, weeks before the accusations were aired publicly on social media. Since then, a second girl has told the D.R.’s special prosecutor’s office, focused on minors and gender violence, that she also had a relationship with Franco as a minor. Authorities are reportedly now investigating a third alleged relationship but have not yet spoken to the girl involved.
The age of consent in the Dominican Republic is 18 years old, with adults facing criminal charges if they engage in a sexual relationship with a minor. The National Agency for Boys, Girls, Adolescents and Family and Gender Violence Unit reportedly hopes to speak with Franco in the coming weeks.
Franco last played for the Rays on Aug. 12. The next day, social media posts alleging that Franco was in a relationship with a minor began circulating and led to MLB placing him on the restricted list a day later.
The league went a step further last week, placing Franco on administrative leave. He will likely continue to be paid from his team-record 11-year, $182 million contract while MLB waits for resolution to his legal issues. That could take a while, though, as ESPN reports that the Dominican investigation into Franco is expected to continue well beyond the end of the season, all but ending Franco’s 2023.
MLB often keeps players on paid leave in such situations, and the missed time is often treated as time served when players negotiate their eventual unpaid suspension. The only player to not make such a deal with MLB is Trevor Bauer, whose initial 324-game suspension did not count the time served, though an arbitrator later reversed that while docking his pay for 50 games.
Players do not need to be criminally charged to face suspensions from MLB under its domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policies.