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Rays shortstop Wander Franco released from Dominican jail amid ongoing investigation

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — Wander Franco, a shortstop for the Tampa Bay Rays, was released Monday from a jail in the Dominican Republic amid an ongoing investigation into allegations he had a relationship with a 14-year-old girl.

Franco paid 2 million Dominican pesos ($34,000) as a type of deposit required by a judge who on Friday ordered his conditional release.

While Franco is free to leave the Dominican Republic, he was ordered to appear monthly before authorities as the investigation continues.

Franco did not speak to reporters who crowded around him after his release Monday afternoon in the northern province of Puerto Plata, where he was detained a week ago.

The 22-year-old All-Star is accused of commercial sexual exploitation and money laundering, with prosecutors alleging he paid the teen’s mother thousands of dollars and gave her a car in exchange for her consent.

The girl’s 35-year-old mother also is charged in the case and was ordered held under house arrest. The AP is not naming the woman in order to preserve her daughter’s privacy.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the athlete planned to leave the Dominican Republic.

Franco was having an all-star season before being sidelined in August, when Dominican authorities began investigating claims he had been in a relationship with a minor. Major League Baseball launched its own investigation, placing Franco on the restricted list on Aug. 14 before moving him to administrative leave on Aug. 22. Both investigations are ongoing.

Franco signed a $182 million, 11-year contract in 2021. His salary last year and this year is $2 million per season.

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The Associated Press

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