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Ian Cole suspended after sexual abuse, grooming allegations



WARNING: This story contains confusing details

Tampa Bay Lightning has suspended defense attorney Ian Cole pending an investigation into allegations made on social media that he sexually abused a woman while she was a minor.

The Lightning said Sunday night it has cooperated fully with the NHL in an investigation and is making the decision to suspend Cole until they gather more details. It’s the latest off-ice scandal to hit ice hockey and throws the sport’s culture into question.

“Our organization takes these allegations very seriously,” the team said in a statement. “No members of the organization, including players, will comment further at this time.”

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told the Associated Press earlier on Sunday that the union had opened an investigation. Daly added that the federation had no prior knowledge of the allegations until they were posted on social media.

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

Among the allegations Post anonymously on Twitter on Friday by an account created last month, the person said Cole pressured her to have sex multiple times while she was a minor after he made it to the NHL.

In the post, the person accused Cole of emotional and sexual abuse, and said the NHL was solely responsible for creating an environment for predatory and thoughtless behavior.

Cole, 33, made his NHL debut against St. Louis in 2010 and played five seasons for the Blues before being transferred to Pittsburgh. It is not clear where he was hanging out when the person said Cole sexually abused and groomed her.

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

The investigation into Cole comes as the NHL is looking into allegations by a woman who said she was sexually assaulted by eight members of the Canadian world youth team at a 2018 gala. emerged earlier this year Hockey Canada settled a lawsuit against the woman. Several players from that team are currently playing in the NHL.

Speaking about the Canadian hockey situation, Commissioner Gary Bettman in July said he doesn’t think hockey has a cultural problem.

“I think that there are problems in all sports and in society as a whole that is unacceptable and I don’t think we are any different than anyone else and I certainly don’t think that’s the problem at the NHL level,” Bettman said at the time. “I can’t say necessarily with other levels of hockey. Not suggesting it makes it okay, but there have been widespread reports of other incidents in other sports and that behavior is unacceptable. I want to keep our game to a higher standard. ”

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