Tampa Bay Lightning Suspend Ian Cole Amid Sexual Abuse Allegations

The Tampa Bay Lightning have suspended Ian Cole … after the defenseman was accused of grooming and sexually abusing a woman when she was a minor, the team announced Sunday.

“Our organization takes these allegations very seriously,” Lightning officials said in a statement. “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.”

On Friday, an anonymous Twitter user posted a lengthy statement alleging that Cole had emotionally and sexually abused her when she was in high school.

The accuser claimed Cole “was very well aware of my age and that I was a teen in high school,” and said the hockey player had pressured her to have sex with him and to “do things without my consent, that I had made clear to him I was not ok with.”

Cole — who’s played in the NHL for 15 seasons — adamantly denied the allegations in a statement released Sunday night.

“I take the allegations made against me today in an anonymous tweet very seriously,” he said.

“I completely deny these allegations and will fully cooperate with the NHL and the Tampa Bay Lightning, their offices, and legal departments in the forthcoming investigation.”

According to ESPN, the suspension is considered paid leave.

Cole — a two-time Stanley Cup champion — has played in over 600 career NHL games. He was expected to play a key role for the Lightning this season.

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