Photographer says Twins slugger Miguel Sano tried to kiss her; he says it didn't happen
MINNEAPOLIS Twins all-star third baseman Miguel Sano was accused of grabbing a Twin Cities photographer by the wrist and forcibly trying to kiss her after a signing event in October 2015, the woman wrote in an online post Thursday.
Betsy Bissen, a freelance photographer who has shot St. Paul Saints and Twins games, also accused a former Twins first base coach of unwanted advances and said Sano “didn’t rape me, but he sure did assault me.”
The alleged incident occurred after a signing at Fan HQ, a memorabilia store in Minnetonka's Ridgedale Center, on Oct. 3 after the Twins' second-to-last game of the 2015 season.
In an account that she posted on Twitter, Bissen wrote that she was photographing Sano with fans at the store where she was a volunteer. Sano told Bissen he recognized her from Twins games, she wrote. Sano “kept trying to flirt with me,” Bissen wrote. “I didn’t reciprocate.”
After the autograph session, Sano “grabbed my wrist and made me go with" him, his agent and one other man to an Apple store, where he shopped for 30 minutes. Bissen wrote that she “didn’t want to cause a scene” so she walked with them to the store.
As Sano was leaving the mall, Bissen wrote that he asked where the nearest restroom was, and Bissen pointed in its direction.
“Apparently I was too close, and the athlete took that as a signal that I wanted him to grab me and try to take me back thru the door,” she wrote. “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 ten mins (sic) 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.
“The next day, my body was sore all over from having to fight off this athlete that thought he was entitled to take advantage of me against my will.”
The Twins said they were not aware of the alleged incident before Bissen’s tweet on Thursday.
“The Twins, along with Major League Baseball, take these allegations very seriously,” the team said in a statement. “Until more information is gathered, the Twins will have no further comment.”
MLB said it would conduct an investigation.
Bissen, who declined a request for comment through the St. Paul Saints, posted the message as part of the #MeToo movement of women sharing stories of sexual misconduct against them.
She also described unwanted advances by the Twins’ first base coach in 2015, who she said was “a married man, around 20 years older than me.” The team’s first base coach at the time was Butch Davis, whose contract was not renewed after the 2016 season.
Davis denied requesting Bissen's phone number.
"I never knew her name,” Davis said in a phone interview with the Pioneer Press. “I was just trying to be cordial. I’d see her once in a blue moon in the camera well and speak to her: ‘Hey, how you doing?’ Just a casual conversation. Nothing more than that. That was it. Never, ever anything else. I never overstepped my bounds on her or anybody else. ...
" I never, ever crossed the line with any of the people I met. I don’t know why she would even say it."
Bissen later wrote on Twitter that "the advances of the first base coach were unwelcome, but they didn't go beyond that thankfully."
In a statement to TMZ Sports, Sano denied that the incident ever happened.
"I unequivocally deny the allegation made against me today -- it never happened," he said, according to TMZ Sports. "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."
Current and former Twins players reacted to the news on Twitter.
Pitcher Trevor May wrote, “I’m sorry Betsy.”
Former Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe, who was with the team in 2015, wrote, “I’m so sorry about this. I understand why you didn’t, but I wish you would have come to me.”