According to court documents obtained by The Associated Press, he had a short-term romantic involvement with a 14-year-old girl and provided her mother with a small car and large sums of money in exchange for her approval.
The judge granted permission for Franco to depart from the Dominican Republic, but requires him to return every month for meetings with authorities.
After the hearing ended, Franco, who was supposed to be released on Saturday, did not communicate with journalists.
A 22-year-old athlete, who is an All-Star, is facing allegations of engaging in commercial sexual exploitation and money laundering. The mother of the girl, who is 35 years old, is also facing similar charges as Franco. In order to protect the privacy of her daughter, the woman’s name is not being disclosed by the AP.
The judge has been presented with a document of nearly 600 pages, which outlines the evidence collected by prosecutors during their months-long investigation. There have been no charges brought against the individual.
The athlete’s legal representatives have not provided any additional information other than stating that Franco was “doing well.”
According to prosecutors, the inquiry was initiated following an anonymous report in July 2023 from someone who saw a social media post implying a connection between two individuals. The accuracy of the alleged post has not been confirmed by the AP.
Officials allege that in December 2022, Franco removed the underage girl from her residence in Puerto Plata and engaged in a four-month romantic involvement with her, with the approval of the girl’s mother.
According to the statement from the girl, Franco is being accused of providing the mother with $1,700 each month for seven months and purchasing a vehicle for her. This was allegedly done to enable their relationship and allow her to go out with him wherever she desired.
The girl stated that she requested a local digital media platform to release an article about her supposed romance with the baseball player. She claimed that she was tired of her mother, who she accused of keeping all of Franco’s money for herself and not giving her any.
According to the document, Franco released a live video days after the incident, claiming that it was a plot to blackmail him for money.
In September 2023, the girl’s mother’s residence was searched by authorities who discovered and confiscated 800,000 Dominican pesos ($13,700) and $68,500 that had been hidden behind a frame. In a separate search at another location, officials found a guarantee certificate from a local bank for 2.1 million Dominican pesos ($36,000) that was allegedly given by Franco for the purpose of “commercial and sexual exploitation” of the girl.
Furthermore, according to official records, a Suzuki Swift valued at $26,600 was confiscated. It was reported that just days prior to the purchase of the vehicle, the teenager’s mother had a balance of $821 in her bank account. The mother also acquired property in Puerto Plata with a value of $36,000.
Officials also report that Franco’s mother had transferred funds to the girl’s mother, but she has not faced charges in the situation despite their statement that she had intervened “to cover up her son’s involvement with the defendant.”
On Friday morning, Franco showed up at a court in Puerto Plata and chose not to speak as he was led past a crowd of reporters who bombarded him with inquiries. The mother of the girl, who is employed at a nearby bank and had sunglasses on, also opted not to make a statement as she was taken to the courtroom.
A small gathering of young Dominican players dressed in baseball gear gathered outside to show their support for Franco. They held posters with messages such as “Free Franco” and “We stand with Franco.”
Franco was having a highly successful season but was forced to stop playing in August due to an investigation into allegations of a romantic involvement with a minor in the Dominican Republic. The MLB initiated its own investigation and put Franco on the restricted list on Aug. 14, then moved him to administrative leave on Aug. 22. Both investigations are still in progress.
In 2021, Franco agreed to an 11-year deal worth $182 million. His annual salary for last year and the current year is $2 million.