Tampa Bay Lightning suspend Ian Cole pending investigation into sexual abuse allegations
10/11/2022 4:57:07 AM

The Tampa Bay Lightning have suspended defenseman Ian Cole while the National Hockey League (NHL) investigates allegations of sexual assault and grooming.

"The Tampa Bay Lightning is aware of the allegations against player Ian Cole and are cooperating fully with the NHL on an investigation. Our organization takes these allegations very seriously," the ice hockey team announced on Oct. 9.

NHL confirmed to CNN that they were looking into the allegations made against Cole, 33, by an anonymous user on Twitter.

On Oct. 7, a woman under the Twitter handle @emily_smith3333 accused Cole of emotional and sexual abuse.

The Twitter user alleged that she and Cole entered a sexual relationship when she was a minor in high school and he had been playing in the NHL "for a few years at that point."

The Twitter user further alleged that Cole would pressure her into having sex multiple times and bragged to his teammates "about sexually assaulting me as a minor."

"Ian felt emboldened to emotionally and sexually abuse me and other women because the NHL fosters a culture of misogyny. The NHL needs to hold themselves and their players accountable for creating an enabling environment of misogynistic and predatory behavior," the Twitter user said.

Cole denied the allegations.

"I completely deny these allegations and will fully cooperate with the NHL and the Tampa Bay Lightning, their officials, and legal departments in the forthcoming investigation," Cole said in a statement.

"I look forward to clearing my name and demonstrating to the NHL and the Tampa Bay Lightning that these allegations are unfounded," Cole added.

Cole has played in the NHL for 13 seasons and has previously played for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild, Colorado Avalanche, and the Carolina Hurricanes.

Courtesy: Fourth Estate