Update on accusations against Wander Franco for inappropriate behavior regarding minors

Wander Franco / Diario Libre

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco was arrested on 1 January 2024 after appearing before prosecutors in Puerto Plata. He is investigated for inappropriate relationships with minors. He was arrested for not appearing at a previous summons on Thursday, 28 December 2023, made by the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office for Children and Adolescents as part of an inquiry into allegations that he had relationships with minor girls.

ESPN reported last week that at least two people have “filed legal action” against Franco and that a third had accused him of improper behavior without yet seeking legal action. Dominican authorities and MLB have continued to investigate the allegations made against the baseball player.

CBS Sports reported that Franco and his new attorneys Teodosio Jáquez Encarnación and Juan Francisco Rodríguez Consoró met with prosecutors on Monday, 1 January 2024 in the morning to address those accusations. Dominican Republic laws stipulate that he’ll go before a judge within 48 hours, or sometime on Wednesday, 3 January 2024.

Just hours before he was first scheduled to show in court on Thursday, 28 December 2023, Franco had dismissed his lawyers from the Díaz Trueba firm as his representatives. These notified prosecutor Olga Diná Llaverías that it would be impossible for them to represent the player before the judge and represent him in the investigative process.

The Dominican Attorney General’s office has not yet filed a criminal charge against Franco.

Interestingly, over the weekend, El Caribe reported that the prosecutor in the case, Olga Diná Llaverías, is the wife of Audo Vicente, general manager of the Licey Tigers. Vicente denied speculations of involvement in the case. As reported in El Caribe, a source indicated that it was Audo Vicente who took the incriminating photos and uploaded them to social media, later meeting with the Wander Franco family to extort these for cash, as commented Pedro Jimenez on El Sol de la Mañana, talk show.

Vicente called in to respond to the implication on the same talk show. “I don’t know Wander Franco (…) nor do I deal with social media things,” said the baseball manager. He pointed out: “As my wife respects my work, I don’t ask her who she is investigating, either. I cannot say that Franco is guilty because I am neither a prosecutor nor a judge. I regret that a young man, a Dominican, has problems with the law.”

Meanwhile, Franco is on the Tampa Bay Rays restricted list since 14 August 2023, after social media carried allegations that he had been involved in an inappropriate relationship with a minor received widespread attention. The National Agency for Boys, Girls, Adolescents and Family and Gender Violence Unit in the Dominican Republic opened an investigation later that week.

State prosecutors have 48 hours to present evidence and petitions to the judge. This could result in preventive custody as the case is heard.

Franco could lose his lucrative contract with the Tampa Bay Rays if found guilty of the charges.

Read more:
CBS Sports
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Diario Libre
El Caribe
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3 January 2024