Tampa Bay Lightning suspending Ian Cole pending investigation

Sports

Florida Panthers center Eetu Luostarinen (27) works around Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ian Cole (28) during the third period of an NHL preseason hockey game Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

(AP) — The Tampa Bay Lightning suspended defenseman Ian Cole pending an investigation into allegations made on social media that he sexually abused a woman when she was a minor.

The Lightning said Sunday night they were fully cooperating with the NHL on an investigation and were making the decision to suspend Cole until they gather more details.

“Our organization takes these allegations very seriously,” the team said in a statement.

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press earlier Sunday the league had launched an investigation. Daly added the league had no prior knowledge of the allegations until they were posted on social media.

Cole’s agent did not immediately respond to multiple messages seeking comment.

Among the allegations posted anonymously to Twitter on Friday by an account created last month, the person said Cole pressured her into having sex multiple times when she was a minor after he had reached the NHL.

In the posting, the person accused Cole of emotional and sexual abuse, and said the NHL must hold itself and its players accountable for creating an environment of misogynistic and predatory behavior.

The 33-year-old Cole made his NHL debut with St. Louis in 2010 and played five seasons for the Blues before being traded to Pittsburgh. It was not clear where he was playing when the person said Cole sexually abused and groomed her.

Cole, a Michigan native, has played 780 regular-season and playoff games with St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Colorado, Minnesota and Carolina. He signed a $3 million, one-year contract with Tampa Bay in July.

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