NHL finds ‘no evidence to support’ sexual abuse allegations against Lightning’s Ian Cole
The NHL “has found no evidence to support” the sexual allegations made against Ian Cole of the Tampa Bay Lightning and has concluded its investigation.
Cole was suspended by the team earlier this week “pending the results of the [NHL’s] investigation” on Cole.
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The team said it was cooperating fully with the league and its investigation of the allegations. The defender was interviewed by the league on Wednesday.
The allegations were made on Twitter by a user whose name is listed as Emily Smith. The woman released a lengthy statement accusing Cole of sexually assaulting and grooming her when she was underage, along with others. The statement is the user’s only tweet.
LIGHTNING SUSPENDS IAN COLE AS DEFENDER AGAINST SEXUAL ABUSE CHARGES, FEMALE CAREGIVER WHEN SHE WAS A MINOR
However, the league has been unable to confirm the identity of the user and will not be able to do so without a court order or a subpoena from Twitter. The NHL said efforts to “contact the unnamed source of the social media post…were unsuccessful.”
The league responded to Smith’s tweet, asking him to “Please DM us.”
The league now considers the matter closed.
The suspension forced Cole to miss the Lightning’s first two games of the season – the teams play in Pittsburgh against the Penguins on Saturday night, but Cole is not on the active roster.
If Cole remains suspended, the NHLPA will file a grievance.
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Cole, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, played for the St. Louis Blues from 2010 to 2014, when he was traded to Pittsburgh Penguins. He played for the Columbus Blue Jackets, Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild and Carolina Hurricanes before joining the Lightning in the offseason.
He won the Stanley Cup twice in his career.
Fox News’ Scott Thompson contributed to this report.