By Theo A. Katz
Newly acquired Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman, Ian Cole, has been anonymously accused of sexual assault.
On Sunday Oct. 7, a tweet was posted by the accuser, under the name, Emily Smith, which details her and Cole’s encounter. According to Fox News, Smith mentioned in her tweet how Cole knew how old she was and the heavy amount of pressure she faced from the hockey player to engage in sexual intercourse.
“Ian felt emboldened to emotionally and sexually abuse me and other women because the NHL fosters a culture of misogyny,” said Smith in her tweet. “The NHL needs to hold themselves and their players accountable for creating an environment of misogynistic and predator behavior.”
According to ESPN, Cole, 33, has played for numerous NHL teams, most recently with the Carolina Hurricanes before signing a one year, $3 million contract with the Lightning this offseason. Smith would further add that she was a victim to derogatory and misogynistic comments.
Smith is accusing Cole of multiple counts of sexual assault.
As said in Smith’s twitter statement, she met Cole while she was a minor and in high school and was pressured by him to to have sex, including a meeting at Cole’s team hotel.
According to The Tampa Bay Times, The defensemen’s accusations have not been the only sexual assault case to run about the NHL in recent years. In 2021, former Chicago Blackhawk Kyle Beach came forward as the player who sued the franchise for mishandling his allegations that he was sexually abused by a team video coach while with the team in 2010.
There has been a long-line of sexual assault cases in recent years in professonial sports. In 2018, Hockey Canada, the sport’s national governing back in that country, has come under fire after it was revealed in May that the organization reached a settlement with a woman who was sexually assaulted by eight players.
Furthermore, according to The New York Times, Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson of the National Football League (NFL) is suspended 11 games after multiple reports came out of him sexually assaulting 24 women during massage appointments.
The Tampa Bay Lightning opened up their 2022 campaign the night of Oct 11., losing to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, 3-1.
While this is an ongoing investigation, Cole is now suspended until further notice, and was expected to travel to New York City and be part of their lineup.
“I take the allegations made against me today in an anonymous tweet very seriously,” said Cole in a recent statement regarding the allegations. “I look forward to clearing my name and demonstrating to the NHL and the Tampa Bay Lightning that these allegations are unfounded.” Smith’s tweet did not include both the date and location of the encounter.
Cole recently met with his agent, Kevin Magnuson to discuss next steps regarding the investigation. “He [Cole] will cooperate with the league, the team, and their legal departments in the forthcoming investigation,” said Magnuson.
The Tampa Bay Lightning look to bounce back this season after losing to the Colorado Avalanche in the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs in six games. This season, they look to win their third Stanley Cup in four seasons.