NHL finds ‘no evidence to substantiate’ sexual abuse allegations against Lightning’s Ian Cole
The NHL “found no evidence to substantiate” the sexual allegations made against Tampa Bay Lightning's Ian Cole and has concluded its investigation.
Cole was suspended by the team earlier this week “pending the results of the [NHL's] investigation” into Cole.
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The team said it was fully cooperating with the league and its investigation into the allegations. The defenseman 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 posted a lengthy statement accusing Cole of sexually abusing and grooming her while she was a minor, as well as others. The statement is the user's lone tweet.
LIGHTNING SUSPEND IAN COLE AS DEFENSEMAN FACES ACCUSATIONS OF SEXUAL ABUSE, GROOMING WOMAN WHEN SHE WAS MINOR
However, the league was unable to confirm the user's identity and won't be able to without a court order or subpoenaing Twitter. The NHL said efforts to “make contact with the anonymous source of the social media post … were unsuccessful.”
The league replied to Smith's tweet, asking her 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 plays in Pittsburgh against the Penguins on Saturday night, but Cole is not listed on the active roster.
If Cole remains suspended, the NHLPA will file a grievance.
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Cole, from Ann Arbor, Michigan, played for the St. Louis Blues from 2010 to 2014, when he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He played for the Columbus Blue Jackets, Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild and Carolina Hurricanes before joining the Lightning in the offseason.
He’s won the Stanley Cup twice in his career.
Fox News' Scott Thompson contributed to this report.