Updated 2:10 p.m. | Posted 1:30 p.m.
A local sports photographer said Thursday that Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sano in 2015 grabbed her by the wrist until it hurt, wouldn't let go as she tried to pull away and repeatedly, forcibly tried to kiss her.
Photographer Betsy Bissen described the alleged sexual assault in a Twitter post where she added #metoo, the hashtag women have using to share stories of being sexually harassed or assaulted by politically powerful or famous men.
She said that Sano had been at an autograph signing at an unspecified mall store where she said she volunteered. She said the player had recognized her from Twins games that she had photographed.
After the signing ended, she said Sano pulled her by the wrist to go to a nearby Apple store and that she agreed because she didn't want to make a scene. About 30 minutes later when Sano and his agent planned to leave the mall, she said Sano asked for the restroom and then tried to pull her through a door toward the restroom.
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 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.
"No, he didn't rape me, but he sure did assault me," she added. "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 ... 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."
Bissen also said she suffered the unwanted pursuits of an unnamed Twins first base coach, a man she described as married and much older who had sought her phone number. She said the coach was no longer with the team.
She said that she had not previously told the Twins of the incident.
According to the website TMZ Sports, Sano denies assaulting Bissen.
"I unequivocally deny the allegation made against me today — it never happened," Sano said in a statement obtained by TMZ Sports. The statement continued: "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 issued a statement Thursday afternoon saying the organization takes the allegations "very seriously."
According to a report by ESPN, the MLB has also responded. "We are aware of the allegations and are now in the process of looking into it," MLB spokesman Mike Teevan said in a statement.
MPR News has reached out to Bissen for further comment. On her Twitter feed Thursday, she said she was declining to talk to media, although she later confirmed that the incident took place at Ridgedale Center in Minnetonka on Oct. 3, 2015.
Sano is an emerging superstar for the Twins, a young power hitter who was sidelined by injury late last season but who was expected to be ready for the 2018 season. He's been viewed as a cornerstone of the Twins' future.
Full text of Bissen's account is above.
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