Miguel Sano denies assault accusation by female photographer

Big League Stew
A photographer is accusing Miguel Sano of assaulting her three years ago. (Getty Images)
A photographer is accusing Miguel Sano of assaulting her three years ago. (Getty Images)

Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sano was accused Thursday of assaulting and forcibly kissing a photographer, who is sharing her story after three years. According to Betsy Bissen, who works for the St. Paul Saints and the website Twins Daily, Sano roughly grabbed her wrist and tried to drag her through a door for while he repeatedly tried to kiss her.

“He didn’t rape me,” Bissen wrote. “But he sure did assault me.”

Hours after Bissen came forward, Sano “unequivocally” denied the allegation. Here’s the full text of her accusation against Sano, followed by his rebuttal:

Sano, in his statement, said the incident Bissen wrote about “never happened”:

“I unequivocally deny the allegation made against me today — it never happened,” Sano said in the statement. “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.”

The Twins released a statement Thursday saying they take the accusation “very seriously” but have nothing to say until more information is gathered. MLB also said it was “looking into it” in a statement.

The events Bissen outlined happened three years ago, which she confirmed in subsequent tweets. Back then, Bissen was a credentialed Twins photographer and said that she had been enduring the aggressive (and unwanted) flirting of the Twins first-base coach, a married man 20 years her senior who she said is no longer with the team. She didn’t name the coach, but Butch Davis was the Twins’ first-base coach in 2015 and was fired after the 2016 season. Bissen believes that this coach’s persistent advances are what caught Sano’s eye.

The alleged assault by Sano took place away from the stadium over several hours during a public appearance by Sano. Bissen volunteered at a store in a mall where Sano was doing an autograph signing. The two took a picture together, during which Sano allegedly said that he’d seen Bissen at the games. When the signing was over, Bissen says that Sano grabbed her wrist and pulled her into the mall and then into an Apple Store. Not wanting to cause a scene, she says she stayed there with Sano (along with his agent and her boss) for a half hour.

When it was time for Sano to leave, the car was pulled up to a back door and Bissen and her boss walked him there. Then, while Bissen was trying to help Sano find the restroom, he allegedly grabbed her wrist and tried to pull her back through the door and refused to let go. Bissen also says that Sano tried to forcibly kiss her numerous times, despite her repeatedly saying no and screaming for help. According to Bissen, this went on for ten minutes before Sano gave up.

Near the end of her post, Bissen sums up her feelings on the alleged assault, using words and phrases that sound all too familiar these days.

“I don’t even want to think about what he may have done, had he got me through that door. No, he didn’t rape me, but he sure did assault me. When I said no, it should’ve been the end of it. He should have respected that and stopped. Instead, he hurt me and kept going.”

Bissen gave several reasons as to why she had decided to stay quiet until now, and they’re similar to reasons we’ve been hearing from women all over the world as more #MeToo stories have been shared. She was afraid that no one would believe her, and afraid of retribution from the Twins — specifically, that she’d be stripped of her access. Those are real fears, and even after a tidal wave of women have come forward with stories of the assault and harassment they’ve endured, those fears still exist.

Bissen’s decision to share her story wasn’t about fear, though. It was about being brave and courageous, and about giving hope to others who have endured similar things in their lives.

After she posted her story, Bissen also made sure to clarify that the Twins had no idea about the incident, and so the rumor that the team is shopping Sano on the trade market is completely unrelated to her story.

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at lizroscher@yahoo.com or follow her on twitter! Follow @lizroscher

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