Ian Cole's Season is Delayed Due to Sexual Abuse Allegations




*Trigger Warning – This article includes allegations of grooming and sexual abuse that may be disturbing to individuals.*


The NHL post-season has been relatively quiet. The draft came and went, and various teams traded and released players. Teams prepared for another season, and each hoped to win a cup. However, just days before the regular season was set to begin a Twitter post engulfed one player in allegations of grooming and sexually abusing a minor.


On Friday a Twitter user by the name of @Emily_Smith3333 posted a message accusing Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ian Cole of assaulting her while she was in high school.[1] The Twitter account was created in September and is the only tweet associated with the account. Currently. there is little information about the identity of the individual who posted on the account. The tweet tagged the Lightning and NHL official accounts on the platforms. The detailed statement claimed that Cole had been playing in the NHL for several years when he began a four-year relationship with the individual when she was in high school. [2] The message states that Cole was aware that the individual was a minor and pressured her to have sex as well as pressuring her into doing things without consent.[3]


The statement continues by saying that Cole bragged about his relationship with the individual to his NHL teammates and made repeated misogynistic comments to her.[4] Additionally, the allegation alleges that the individual was not the only minor that Cole had a sexual relationship. She states that Cole also engaged in relations with another minor from the individual’s high school after she had graduated. [5] The statement did not say when and where these incidents occurred.


While Tampa’s season begins on Tuesday against the New York Rangers, Cole will not be skating with the team. Over the summer Cole was signed to a one-year $3 million contract with Tampa. The NHL and Lightning are aware of the allegations and have opened an investigation into them. There is no word if a police investigation will also be opened. As of now the Lightning have suspended Cole pending investigation of the allegations.


In a statement released by the team “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. While we continue to gather more details, we have decided to suspend Ian Cole pending the results of an investigation. No members of the organization, including players, will comment further at this time.”[6]


Cole has also released his statement via his agent on Twitter saying “I take the allegations made against me today in an anonymous tweet very seriously. I completely deny these allegations and will fully cooperate with the NHL and Tampa Bay Lightning, their officials, and legal departments in the forthcoming investigation. I look forward to clearing my name and demonstrating to the NHL and the Tampa Bay Lightning that these allegations are unfounded. I will have no further comment until the NHL’s investigation concludes.”


This is not the first time the NHL has had to deal with allegations of sexual abuse. Last year Evander Kane was accused of abuse allegations by his ex-wife Anna. Additionally, the Chicago Blackhawks were engulfed by an investigation into sexual assault allegations from 2010 that led to various high-ranking members of the organization resigning. Moving forward it will be interesting to see how the Lightning and NHL handle the investigation.


Jessica Shaw is a recent graduate of New York Law School and can be reached on Twitter @JessicaShaw22.


Sources:

[1] Crawford, K. Michigan native, NHL player Ian Cole suspended after accusation of sexual abuse, grooming a minor. Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved October 9, 2022, from https://sports.yahoo.com/michigan-native-nhl-player-ian-222435354.html

[2] Id.

[3] G, J. NHL investigating allegation