Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ian Cole will have an in-person interview on Wednesday in New York as part of the NHL’s investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against him, sources told ESPN.
Cole will be interviewed by Jared Maples, the NHL’s chief security officer.
Cole was suspended by the Lightning on Sunday after a Twitter user who identified herself as Emily Smith posted that she was sexually abused and groomed by Cole when she was a minor. In a statement released through his agent, Cole said he would cooperate with the investigation and “looked forward to clearing my name and demonstrating to the NHL and the Tampa Bay Lightning that these allegations are unfounded.”
Maples joined the NHL in 2021 after serving as the director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. Maples has been involved in other league investigations, including last season when Evander Kane, then a forward for the San Jose Sharks, who is now with the Edmonton Oilers.
According to sources, it was the Lightning who decided to suspend Cole until the completion of the league’s investigation.
The 33-year-old defenseman, who is entering his 13th NHL season, signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent this summer on a one-year, $3 million deal.
The Lightning open the season on Tuesday night in New York for an Eastern Conference finals rematch against the New York Rangers.
The allegations against Cole were made on Oct. 7.
Smith posted on Twitter that she was groomed by Cole for years, “starting when I was a minor in high school,” and noted that Cole was “well aware of my age” at the time of the alleged sexual abuse.
“As a teenager, I didn’t even know what grooming was,” she wrote. “When you’re young and this happens to you, you don’t realize you are a victim. As I got older and built self-esteem, I started to fully understand the extent of what happened to me and that this could never have been consensual.”