A freelance photographer in Minnesota says Twins star Miguel Sano assaulted her in 2015 by grabbing her wrist and trying to pull her into a bathroom while they were at an autograph signing event.
Betsy Bissen, 37, came forward with her #MeToo statement on Twitter on Thursday, writing, “This is not easy for me to share, but I feel I need to share it. This is my story.”
Bissen wrote, “Every day new stories come out. More women come forward about their sexual assaults and rapes. When will it end? For those of us who have been thru a similar situation, hearing each of those stories is another reminder of what we went thru.”
She added, “I’ve been a huge fan of baseball for the majority of my life, so naturally, I like doing sports photography and working autograph signings of Minnesota athletes. I’ve shot in the Twins camera well on many occasion, and this is where my story starts…it ends with working at an autograph signing.”
Here’s what you need to know about Bissen and her story:
1. Bissen Wrote That Sano ‘Didn’t Rape Me, but He Sure Did Assault Me’
Betsy Bissen wrote on Twitter that Miguel Sano first noticed her while she was working in the camera well at Twins games. Bissen said she was then at an autograph signing at a store she volunteered at.
“[Sano] made a comment while we got our picture together that he had seen me during the games. During the signing, he kept trying to flirt with me (I didn’t reciprocate),” she wrote. “After the signing was over, he decided that he wanted to go to the Apple store before he left the mall. As him, his agent and the guy I worked for walked away, he grabbed my wrist and made e go with them.”
Bissen said she didn’t “want to cause a scene,” so she went along with him. She said they spent about 30 minutes inside the store before it was time to leave.
“Their car was pulled around to a back hallway door. As we got outside [Sano] decided he needed to use the restroom. I asked my boss where it was and pointed to the door we just walked thru,” Bissen wrote. “Apparently I was too close and [Sano] took that as a signal that I wanted him to grab me and try to take me back thru that door.”
Bissen described what happened next:
I pulled back as he held onto my wrist. It hurt, how badly he was grasping at my wrist, but he wouldn’t let go. I wasn’t going to give up my fight though. He then leaned down and tried to kiss me, more than once. Every time he did, I said no and kept pulling back. I was in a squatted position with my wrist throbbing, I screamed, no one came to help me. He finally gave up after a solid 10 [minutes] of fighting to pull me thru that door. I don’t even want to think of what he may have done, had he got me thru that door.”
Bissen said, “No he didn’t rape me, but he sure did assault me. When I said no, it should have been the end of it. He should have respected that and stopped. Instead, he hurt me and kept going.”
She said that “the next day, my body was sore all over from having to fight off” Sano. She said “he thought he was entitled to take advantage of me against my will.”
Bissen wrote on Twitter, “The trolls are out in full force on [Instagram]. Most saying how he would never go for a girl like me when he can get models. How a 200lb man could pull my ass thru a door (I box, so I do have strength to fight back). Or that I want fame/money from this. Let me assure you, I don’t. I want nothing more than to feel free of this burden I’ve carried with me since 2015. I have NOTHING to gain from this. It’s been hard enough for me to come forward knowing there would be backlash, but it was time.”
When questioned by a Twitter user about how long Sano tried to get her into the door, Bissen wrote, “It’s not like I clocked it. I felt like an eternity that I was pulling with every bit of strength I had in my legs, in my arm. My wrist was red and purple when I got home that night. (not a bruise, just sore).”
2. She Says She Told People About What Happened at the Time, but Was Not Ready to Come Forward Publicly
Bissen said in her statement that “all I want from this is to tell my story.” She said she didn’t come forward sooner because she was “afraid that I wouldn’t get the access to shoot baseball that I got before.” She said she did tell people, but she had two jobs she loved and was scared to lose, so she didn’t come forward publicly.
“I did tell people, including my family,” she wrote on Twitter to someone asking why she didn’t let everyone know immediately. “I wasn’t quite ready to share with the whole world. It’s overwhelming and terrifying because there are people like you who will cry for proof. Thanks for making it harder for women to come forward.”
When asked for proof, she wrote, “well the two people who heard me scream and were there have something to lose with siding with me. What kind of proof do you think I need? Should I record any interaction with people I have so you can hear me say no? No means no. Period.”
A friend, who uses the handle TCAnelle on Twitter, wrote that Bissen shared what happened at the time.
“For anyone doubting her, she told me and other friends/family right after it happened,” TCAnelle tweeted. “It was her story to share on her own timetable. Stop before questioning why she waited until now. There have been enough #metoo stories that illustrate why women wait to speak out.”
Bissen said she did continue to shoot Twins games after the incident.
“It happened in 2015. I did actually go back and shoot more games! It was hard, especially the first game after it happened,” she tweeted.
She said, “I’m not asking for anything from this other than to relieve myself of this horrific night. There’s no case/trial. Just a woman who wants this event to not hold any power over her. … The other brave women who have had similar things happen to them have shown me I’m not alone. I can only hope to offer than to someone else. It’s just a burden I didn’t want to live with anymore.”
3. The Twins Say They Are Taking the Allegations ‘Very Seriously,’ While Sano Has Denied It Happened
The Minnesota Twins said in a statement, “Today the Minnesota Twins were made aware of allegations involving Miguel Sano at an offsite appearance during the 2015 season. The Twins, along with Major League Baseball, take these allegations very seriously. Until more information is gathered, the Twins will have no further comment.”
MLB spokesman Mike Teevan said in a statement, “We are aware of the allegations and are now in the process of looking into it.”
The MLB and the MLB Players Association put in place a domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy in August 2015 that allows commissioner Rob Manfred to decide discipline in those cases with no maximum or minimum penalty.
Sano, a 24-year-old native of the Dominican Republic, has been with the Twins organization since 2009 and has been playing in Minnesota since 2015.
He told TMZ Sports, “I unequivocally deny the allegation made against me today — it never happened. I have the utmost respect for women, especially those working in professional sports, and I deeply sympathize with anyone who has experienced sexual harassment. There is no place for it in our society.”
Sano’s former agent, Rob Plummer, told ESPN he was at the mall for the signing, but was not in a position to see what happened.
“I was outside next to the car, waiting for him to come out on the other side of the loading bay dock, so I don’t know what happened inside,” Plummer told ESPN. “I didn’t see or hear anything. I wasn’t anywhere near Miguel.”
Bissen also mentioned in her statement that the Twins first base coach that year, Butch Davis, hit on her “almost every game I was at.” She said, “I could ignore this. The first base coach didn’t bother me until he tried to ask for my phone number. A married man, around 20 years older than me, I didn’t oblige.”
Davis, who was fired by the Twins after the 2016 season, has not commented.
4. Bissen Has Received Support on Social Media, Including From Former Twins Player, Along With Harassment
While Bissen has received some harassment on social media after telling her story, she has received mainly support, including from current and former Minnesota Twins players.
Trevor Plouffe, who was on the Twins with Sano in 2015, wrote to her, “I’m so sorry about this. I understand why you didn’t, but I wish you would have come to me.”
Another current teammate of Sano, pitcher Trevor May, wrote, “I’m sorry” in a tweet to Bissen.
Nick Nelson, one of the owners of Twins Daily, wrote on his site, “I’ve known Betsy for a long time. She related this experience to me and others many months ago. There is no reason to doubt its veracity. I speak for the entire Twins Daily ownership group in saying we believe her story, and respect/support her for making the difficult decision to share it publicly.”
“I’m so overwhelmed by all the support! Thank you to everyone for your kind words. This has taken me a while to get here (and I’m still nervous)!” Bissen tweeted.
Bissen has tweeted about some backlash she has received.
“This was a great FB message I got: “you are a stupid b*tch! you got hit on by an athlete and you want to cry about it. c*ut” Can’t wait to report that one!” Bissen tweeted.
5. She Owns a Photography Company & Has Taken Photos for the St. Paul Saints & the Minnesota Zoo
Betsy Bissen owns her own company, Bitzy Betsy Photography, and has also done work as a photographer for the Minnesota Zoo and as the team photographer for the St. Paul Saints baseball team, according to her Facebook page.
Bissen says she isn’t filing a lawsuit and doesn’t want anything other than her story to be known.
“It’s not just the recaps of my fellow women who have been thru situations of their own that remind me of what happened,” Bissen wrote. “It’s every baseball game, every write up about him that rehashes this. Every time I have to hear about how great people think Miguel Sano is, I’m reminded of how awful he actually is and how he hurt me.”
Bissen added on Twitter, “It’s taken a bit to get to this point, but I couldn’t wait any longer. If it’s happened to me, there’s a good chance it’s happened to someone else. … Hopefully my story will give others that it’s happened to the courage to come forward too. I know it’s not easy.”
Bissen said she didn’t expect her story to go viral.
“I didn’t expect it to go viral. It was hard enough for me to type anything up, let alone tell people I don’t really know what happened in 2015. The only 2 people who were witness to it, had something to lose. I had no one to corroborate my story, so I felt alone,” she tweeted.