Wander Franco a no-show to answer complaint in D.R.
Posted on: 28 Dec, 2023 at 07:14 PM
Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco did not show up Thursday morning to answer a summons in the Dominican Republic pertaining to allegations he engaged in relationships with minors.
Franco, 22, was ordered to meet with authorities from the Specialized Prosecutor's Office for Children and Adolescents in the city of Santo Domingo at 11 a.m. local time. Local newspaper Listin Diario posted a video to social media at about 11:45 a.m. that showed officials waiting for his arrival and listing him as a no-show, and agency director Olga Dina Llaverias later confirmed he did not appear.
Reports Thursday from the Dominican Republic also said that Franco had fired his legal team, and Dina Llaverias said the agency would continue building its case.
"There are a few options in the investigative process, but now is not an opportune time to speak about that," Dina Llaverias said.
Authorities in the Dominican Republic conducted a pair of searches Tuesday looking for Franco but were unable to find him, according to the newspaper.
At least two people have filed lawsuits against Franco, and he is under investigation for an alleged improper relationship with a third minor, ESPN reported.
While no legal charges have been filed, Dominican-based MLB reporter Hector Gomez posted on X (formerly Twitter) on Tuesday: "New evidence has been found in the case of Wander Franco that further implicates him in the accusations that have been made against him of alleged relationships with minors."
The Rays placed Franco on the restricted list Aug. 14 and then on paid administrative leave on Aug. 22 as MLB launched an investigation into social media posts indicating Franco was involved in an inappropriate relationship with a minor.
Franco since was moved to Tampa Bay's active roster, but only because administrative leave is unavailable during the offseason. He could be placed back on administrative leave when spring training begins.
Franco, who was first called up in 2021 as one of the most hyped prospects in recent years, played a career-high 112 games and was an All-Star for the first time in 2023. He set career highs in virtually all statistical categories, including home runs (17), RBIs (58), steals (30) and runs (65) while batting .281 with a .344 on-base percentage and a .475 slugging percentage.
--Field Level Media