Freelance photographer Betsy Bissen has joined the #MeToo Movement on Thursday, claiming that Minnesota Twins star Miguel Sano grabbed her by the wrist and tried pulling her into the bathroom while at an autograph signing in 2015. The 37-year-old photographer says that Sano flirted with her, but she didn’t reciprocate. She said that Sano grabbed her by the wrist and forced her to walk with him and their colleagues. She didn’t want to cause a scene at first but then began to struggle as he was about to bring her into the bathroom. She said her body was very sore the next day as a result of fighting “off this athlete that thought he was entitled to take advantage of me against my will.”
On Thursday, Bissen took to Twitter to share her #MeToo story, writing, “This is not easy for me to share, but I feel I need to share it. This is my story.”
Bissen added that “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.”
The photographer said, “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 Betsy Bissen’s Story
Bissen recalls her encounter with Miguel Sano in 2015, who first noticed her while she did photography work for the Minnesota Twins during games. The alleged altercation happened at an autograph signing at a store where Bissen volunteered.
“[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 me go with them.”
The photographer wrote that she didn’t “want to cause a scene,” so she went along with Sano. In her tweet, she said that they spent the next 30 minutes inside the store before it was time to go.
“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.”
Here’s 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 wrote, “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.”
Fans of Sano took to Twitter to shoot down Bissen’s allegation. But the photographer was quick to respond, saying that “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.”
One Twitter user questioned Bissen, asking her how long did the athlete attempt to pull her into the bathroom before giving up. Bissen responded by writing, “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).”
Bissen said that she told friends and family about the incident, but wasn’t ready to go public with the allegations at the time. In her statement, she said, “all I want from this is to tell my story.” She didn’t tell the public what happened then because she was “afraid that (she) wouldn’t get the access to shoot baseball that (she) got before.
“I did tell people, including my family,” she wrote on Twitter, responding to a question as to why she didn’t come public with her claims sooner. “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 pressed for proof, she responded by writing, “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 of Bissen who uses the handle TCAnelle took to Twitter to defend her friend’s story.
“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 that she continued working with the Minnesota Twins as a photographer following 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. “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.”
The photographer also claims that first base coach 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 was fired from the Twins in 2016 and hasn’t responded to Bissen’s comments.
What is the Reaction from the Minnesota Twins and the accused Miguel Sano?
The Minnesota Twins are taking these allegations very seriously. While Miguel Sano has completely denied these allegations.
The Minnesota Twins released a written statement on Twitter which said, “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.”
In August 2015, the MLB and the MLB Players Association created a domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse policy, which gives commissioner Rob Manfred the authority to decide the punishment in those cases with no maximum or minimum penalty.
Miguel Sano is a 24-year-old native of the Dominican Republican. He’s been playing with the Twins since 2009 and has been living in Minnesota since 2015. He “unequivocally” denies the allegations of assault against him by photographer Betsy Bissen.
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.”
Rob Plummer, Sano’s former agent, spoke with ESPN about the incident. Plummer said that he was at the mall for the signing, but wasn’t in the position to see what happened between Sano and Bissen.
“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.”
A Show of Support for Betsy Bissen
Despite the harassment and probing questions, she has also received her fair share of support. Two former Minnesota Twins players took to Twitter to show their support for Bissen.
Trevor Plouffe, who played on Twins alongside 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 former teammate of Sano took to Twitter, writing “I’m sorry” to Bissen. His name is Trevor May, a former pitcher for the Twins.
Nick Nelson, one of the owners of Twins Daily, took to his website to write, “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.”
Bissen responded to the overflow of support by writing “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)!”
The photographer has also Tweeted out some of the negative responses she received as a result of her #MeToo story. “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!”
More Info about Betsy Bissen
Betsy Bissen owns the company Bitzy Betsy Photography. According to her Facebook page, Bissen has worked as a photographer for the Minnesota Zoo and as a photographer for the St. Paul Saints baseball team.
The 37-year-old photographer said that she only wants her story to be known and is not filing a lawsuit.
“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, “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 that she had no idea that her story would go viral.
She tweeted, “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.”