The Tamba Bay Lightning have suspended defenceman Ian Cole after allegations that he sexually abused a minor surfaced.
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. “No members of the organization, including players, will comment further at this time.”
Twitter user Emily_Smith3333 accused Cole of grooming and sexually assaulting them in a statement posted Friday. The statement does not say when or where the alleged assault occurred, but Emily_Smith3333 says that they were in high school and Cole was an active NHL player at the time.
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.
After the suspension was announced, Cole issued a statement through his agent in which he denied the allegations and said that he “will fully cooperate” with the investigation.
“I take the allegations made against me today in an anonymous tweet very seriously,” Cole said in his statement. “I look forward to clearing my name and demonstrating to the NHL and the Tampa Bay Lightning that these allegations are unfounded.”
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.