NHL Investigation Finds No Evidence Against Ian Cole in Sexual Abuse Probe

Erin WalshOctober 15, 2022

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ian Cole (28) before an NHL preseason hockey game against the Florida Panthers Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
AP Photo/Chris O'Meara

The NHL announced Saturday following an investigation that it has found no evidence to substantiate the anonymous sexual abuse and grooming allegations against Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ian Cole.

The NHL said in a press release:

"The investigation included two separate interviews with Mr. Cole as well as interviews with NHL club personnel and other individuals with potentially relevant information. Further, the investigation included a detailed review of on-line and social media, public data, and court records and law enforcement checks. In addition, despite attempts by the League to make contact with the anonymous source of the social media post, those efforts were unsuccessful.

"On the basis of the foregoing, the National Hockey League now considers this matter closed."

The NHL Players' Association also released a statement following the league's investigation:


The NHLPA has issued a statement regarding the NHL's recent investigation. <a href="https://t.co/Ee3eOWNGmD">pic.twitter.com/Ee3eOWNGmD</a>

The Lightning announced Oct. 9 that they had suspended Cole, pending the results of an investigation, following the allegations against him. The veteran defenseman has since been reinstated, per The Athletic's Joe Smith.

Cole also released a statement on Oct. 9 denying the allegations, adding that he was looking "forward to clearing my name and demonstrating to the NHL and the Tampa Bay Lightning that these allegations are unfounded."

On Oct. 7, an anonymous woman accused Cole of grooming and sexually abusing her over a four-year stretch that began while she was a minor in high school.

The woman accused Cole of pressuring her into having sex with him, adding that he knew she was still a minor at the time. In addition, she alleged Cole was having sexual relations with other high school-aged teenagers.

In addition, the woman alleged that Cole would "frequently pressure me to do things without consent" and that he manipulated and humiliated her and would frequently make misogynistic, derogatory comments toward her.

"Ian felt emboldened to emotionally and sexually abuse me and other women because the NHL fosters a culture of misogyny," the woman said in her statement. "The NHL needs to hold themselves and their players accountable for creating an enabling environment of misogynistic and predatory behavior."

Cole, who signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Lightning in July, missed the team's first two games of the season against the New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets. It's unclear if he will suit up for the team's matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.

The St. Louis Blues selected the 33-year-old in the first round of the 2007 NHL draft. He made his NHL debut in 2010 and has also played for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild over his 12-year career.