Ever since the bombshell October report detailing disgraced Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein’s disturbing sexual assault allegations, many women (and men) have come forward detailing their experiences of abuse, as the hashtag #MeToo has become a phenomenon on social media.
While Hollywood entertainment and politics have been plagued the most by #MeToo in the Weinstein aftermath, the movement has officially hit Major League Baseball.
The suspect in question? Minnesota Twins slugging third baseman Miguel Sano.
On Thursday, Betsy Bissen- a former photographer for TwinsDaily.com- posted the following message on her then-public Twitter account detailing a 2015 experience with Sano:
As of Friday, Bissen’s Twitter account (@BitzyBetsy) has been made private (quite possibly due to harassment from trolls); she’s also changed her profile picture to a simple message of “Be Bold”.
In Bissen’s post, the now 37-year-old recalled meeting Sano at an autograph signing event at a mall store she volunteered at. She said she “didn’t reciprocate” Sano’s flirtatious actions during the event; and when the signing was over, Sano allegedly grabbed Bissen’s wrist and made her go to an Apple store with him, his agent, and Bissen’s employer within the same mall; Bissen said she “didn’t want to cause a scene” so she “just went along.”
Here’s what happened next. After about a half-hour at the Apple store, it was time to leave. As Bissen and Sano headed toward the back of the store where their ride was parked, Sano “decided” he needed to use the bathroom; and because Bissen was standing “too close” to Sano, it was a sign that Bissen “wanted him to grab me and try to take me back thru (sic) that door,” she wrote.
This is when the alleged assault occurred. According to Bissen, Sano attempted to kiss her- “more than once”- while trying to force her through the bathroom door. Bissen recalled struggling for 10 minutes, screaming for help, before Sano finally “gave up.”
“No, he didn’t rape me, but he sure did assault me,” Bissen wrote. “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.”
Bissen recalled how her body was completely sore the next day from “having to fight off this athlete that thought he was entitled to take advantage of me against my will.”
Sano, who’s 6’4” and 260 pounds, denied the allegations, issuing the following statement through his agent:
“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.”
The Minnesota Twins issued their own statement as well:
“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.”
According to Yahoo.com’s Jeff Passan, the allegations against Sano aren’t surprising; at least according to five unnamed individuals. Here’s what he wrote:
“This was a perfect example of that terrible decision-making, because while Sano might have a lot of things, the utmost respect for women is not one of them, according to five people, including teammates, ex-teammates and confidants, with whom he has spent time. Though none accused Sano of sexual assault or could confirm Bissen’s account of the story, they characterized him as someone who saw the pursuit of women as sport. Getting in trouble for it ‘was only a matter of time,’ said one person familiar with Sano, whom he called ‘a ticking time bomb.'”
Trevor Plouffe, Sano’s teammate from 2015-16, replied to Bissen on Twitter:
I’m so sorry about this. I understand why you didn’t, but I wish you would have come to me.
— Trevor Plouffe (@trevorplouffe) December 28, 2017
Perhaps Plouffe had been one of the five people who knew about Sano’s apparent disrespect for women before Bissen’s post swept social media. Perhaps he’s the one who referred to Sano as a “ticking time bomb.” Of course, that’s just speculation. Maybe Plouffe and Bissen even had a friendly relationship together.
Obviously, this is a very serious allegation. We will have to see how it plays out in Major League Baseball’s investigative process. “We are aware of the allegations and are now in the process of looking into it,” said MLB spokesman Mike Teevan.
Bissen ended her Twitter post by writing, “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.”
As the old saying goes, innocent until proven guilty; but with the apparent lack of surprise from the five unnamed sources in Passan’s article, in the 24-year-old Sano’s case, this could very well be guilty until proven innocent.