Rays' Wander Franco's criminal cases may fall apart if prosecutors can't convince judge by deadline

<div>Tampa Bay Rays Dominican baseball shortstop Wander Franco, who faces an accusation of molesting an underage girl, arrives in court under heavy escort in Puerto Plata, in Dominican Republic, on January 5, 2024. (Photo by AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)</div>
Tampa Bay Rays Dominican baseball shortstop Wander Franco, who faces an accusation of molesting an underage girl, arrives in court under heavy escort in Puerto Plata, in Dominican Republic, on January 5, 2024. (Photo by AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)
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TAMPA - A judge in the Dominican Republic has set a June 1 deadline for prosecutors to officially charge Wander Franco, the Tampa Bay Rays star shortstop, or present evidence to the court.

Franco is on administrative leave from the Rays after he was accused of child sex crimes in his home country last August. Prosecutors say Franco was involved in a secret plot of child abuse with Martha Almonte, the mother of a girl who was 14 at the time, leading to sexual and psychological abuse charges. Almonte is currently on house arrest.

Records show the teen exposed the allegations of abuse on social media, accusing her mother of using her as a sexual commodity. Franco had just signed an 11-year extension with the Rays worth $182 million.

RELATED: Rays' Wander Franco placed on administrative leave through June 1 as sexual abuse probe continues

In text messages between the girl and Franco on the WhatsApp platform, he tells her their secret relationship could cost him everything, but it was worth it.

Now, the question is whether the criminal case against Franco will hold up in court.

"To some extent, yes it is falling apart because the original charges that were brought against Franco were reduced by the judge," said defense attorney Anthony Rickman. "The court found that the allegations of sexual exploitation didn’t meet the evidentiary standard for the government to go forward with the charges."

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Rickman says even if charges fall apart in the Dominican Republic, Franco’s problems are not over.

"Regardless of what the Dominican courts do on this criminal side, there are potential sanctions from Major League Baseball through the domestic abuse policy that could ultimately result in Franco still not playing baseball in the major leagues," said Rickman.

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