Posted January 18, 2013

Report: Friend says Ronaiah Tuiasosopo confessed to Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax

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A investigation by Notre Dame said Manti Te'o was the victim of a hoax. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

An investigation by Notre Dame determined Manti Te’o was the victim of a hoax. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man who has been publicly identified as being behind the Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax, admitted to deceiving the Heisman Trophy finalist in December, according to a friend in an Outside the Lines report, via ESPN.com.

The friend, a woman in her mid-20s who knew Tuiasosopo from church, agreed to be interviewed by Outside the Lines under the condition that she not be identified, saying she was fearful for her family’s safety because of the overwhelming publicity the story has generated. She did allow for her voice to be recorded by Outside the Lines.

(Click here for a full transcript of Pete Thamel’s interview with Manti Te’o.)

She said Tuiasosopo told her Te’o was not involved in the hoax, and that he had concocted similar hoaxes on “other people.”

“He (Ronaiah) told me that Manti was not involved at all, he was a victim. … The girlfriend was a lie, the accident was a lie, the leukemia was a lie,” said the woman. “He was crying, he was literally crying, he’s like ‘I know, I know what I have to do.’

“It’s not only Manti, but he was telling me that it’s a lot of other people they had done this to.”

Notre Dame issued a news release and held a press conference Wednesday after Deadspin reported it could find no record of Lennay Kekua — Te’o’s supposed girlfriend mentioned in several stories on the linebacker — ever existed. Athletic director Jack Swarbrick said a university investigation found that someone using a fictitious name “apparently ingratiated herself” with Te’o, then conspired with others to lead him to believe Kekua had died of leukemia.

The woman who spoke to Outside the Lines said she urged Tuiasosopo to take responsibility when he called her as news of the hoax was breaking Wednesday. She is also concerned that Tuiasosopo might harm himself.

“I (still) am worried for him (Ronaiah), not just him and his family but I know that you can’t judge people like that and that’s why I continue to just encourage (him) to come out and tell the truth,” she said.

Questions about Te’o perpetuating the hoax remain after he was quoted discussing details of his relationship with Kekau in a Dec. 8 Web interview and a Dec. 10 newspaper interview after he told Notre Dame officials he learned that she never existed on Dec. 6.

In the video below, SI.com’s Pete Thamel discusses the information about Manti Te’o that has surfaced since he reported his Sports Illustrated story in October.


62 comments
JoeyBagadoughnutz
JoeyBagadoughnutz

my imaginary girlfriends are the best at the discount knuckle shuffle

SusyQ
SusyQ

This type of relationship is similar to soldiers at war. Many women began to write to anonymous soldiers they never met. Soldiers corresponded with them and felt they had a "girlfriend".  It gave them a stability and yes, many after the wars went on to meet the women, some did not. Look at all of the "date" phone call companies, many men keep a "relationship" just through phone calls. Also, all of the virtual games, people have friends and romances world wide with their avatars. Remember he is a boy, playing in a very regimented sport and school. With the schedule he has as a ND football player, and no life skills (being a very young man a long way from home), I can see where he would not initiate a meeting. Remember he is still a boy, we try to put adult wisdom on these kids that are just engrossed in athletics. He wanted a girlfriend. Just leave him alone, he was hoaxed and is embarrassed about it. Why would that affect the draft? He proved he can play well during personal issues. 

EddieCurran
EddieCurran

Real simple..Have T'eo produce phone records showing he was on the phone when "she" was in hospital. these records will show very long calls since he says he slept on phone with her through the nights. if no such records exist, then he is lying. if they exist, they will go a long way toward proving he was a victim of a very relentless and tireless person seeking to 'hoax' him. if he can't produce phone records, he is not telling the truth

PokeyReese
PokeyReese

Consider yourself for a moment as a teenager in Manti T'eo's position, inexperienced, far from home, under immense pressure, and, whether valid or self inflicted or not, feeling tremendously alone.  Everyone just assumes DI athletes, particularly football players at such high profile schools as Notre Dame, somehow have a maturity commensurate to their publicity.  I do not for a moment believe this.  When I was 19 I was still very much a child & an affirmation seeking perfectionist, driven by external barometers of "success."  I believed desperately in the idea of true love, whatever its form, all too ready to author some other as the romantic lead in a narrative of personal salvation.  Even if such a relationship was only verbal & written, supported by photos, I would of course subscribe to the veracity of the one I loved, and respect her every wish & whim, such was my naïveté, even if that wish were so extreme as to not want me to see her sick, wasted, & dying.  Let us acknowledge his circumstances and give young Mr. T'eo the benefit of doubt here, and, if it is not too much, some peace.  He has been humiliated enough.  Given my druthers, I would see an end to these stories and threads.

JackWilliams
JackWilliams

The fake Lennay Kekua had pictures posted of a real 22 y/o girl. If Te'o was so infatuated with Lennay, why didn't he seek out the real person that he loved so dearly? Others have located her and have discussed this situation with her.

bees31ballard
bees31ballard

My problem with the Hoax story!!  if he was so in love with her, why did he never make an attempt to go visit her in the hospital. Why??  that is the answer I want him to answer. No effort to visit the love of your life in the hospital at all.. REALLY!!

wil1
wil1

No the biggest hoax was why did we have watch alabama destroy nd when nd had no business being there...can we all agree to make the SEC championshp game the "National Championship"....Miss State would have been a much better game

mike77
mike77

Did this reporter actually MEET this "girl" or only talk to her on the phone? Is the reporter being duped himself by Ronaiah again???  

Bill49
Bill49

Tell you what SI. When you and ESPN have an actual person willing to go public and say something for the record we MIGHT believe you. Until then maybe you should investigate why you didn't even bother to do basic high school journalism in the Manti Te'o case and printed so much BS.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

One of the worst  parts of all of this is the tearful press conference held by Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick telling us how they investigated the entire incident. But there was no tearful press conference for Declan Sullivan or Lizzy Seeberg.   A student they forced to climb a dangerous tower in high winds and fell to his death or a St. Mary's student who committed suicide after 'alleged' sexual assault by a ND football player. Football is more important than human life in South Bend. Accept that and everything else falls into place. 

Lance3
Lance3

I always love when the media quote anonymous sources. Makes the story so much more believable!

Of course, anyone affiliated with ESPN will do, say or print anything to make this story go away, since they all but willed Notre Dame and Manti to the NC game and Heisman ceremony.

JoeyBagadoughnutz
JoeyBagadoughnutz

my imaginary girlfriend is the best at the discount knuckle shuffle

Lance3
Lance3

Hey, Manti.

We gonna throw ourselves on the sword and getchu outta this, Bro. Don't sweat it.

Just remember us when you get to be big, rich NFL star.

Or else.

Your friends Tui and Anonymous Girl.

 

GPar
GPar

What a crappy job of reporting. This is why this story got to this point in the first place. The reporter has a name, but doesn't bother to hunt down and talk to that person (Tuiasosopo) and verify anything he's been told. Instead here's the story yet it can't be confirmed. For all anyone knows, this anonymous female could easily be someone that has been paid by people who have a financial interest in Te'o's career to throw the blame off him.  All of this could have been easily avoided if the people reporting the original story of this "girlfriend's" death. Had simply done a little research before reporting it. With such a compelling "love" story, no one bothered to look up the girl's family to see what they thought of Te'o?   

BryanCustard
BryanCustard

Trying to find a reason why this is actually a story. The kid got duped, was embarassed about it, owned up to ut and is moving on, so should everyone else.

 

snowbo2696
snowbo2696

For some reason people REALLY want to continue believing he was in on it. It seems to me like everyone is saving face. Accept reality and move on.

JasonMacBride
JasonMacBride

Maybe this anonymous woman was the one who went to Hawaii to visit Teo. 

Cool
Cool

Wow, what a surprise a freind of a friend heard a friend say that they were involved.  I am wondering how much money this female friend is making with this story? I wonder if this same lady also dated the Cardinals player who actually met the fake girlfriend in real life? 

snowbo2696
snowbo2696

I don't know why everyone is trying so hard to cling to conspiracy theories when what happened has been laid out in front of them. Read the interviews his teammates and coaches gave about it.. The guy felt genuine emotion about the girl and it was obvious to everyone close to him. He got duped, its embarrassing, and we can all move on now. If this really does hurt his draft stock then he will be a steal when somebody does take him.

TriSilk
TriSilk

This still doesnt explain who the alleged person was that Manti talked to "every night". It is one thing to fake an online persona, but to actually have someone pose as the girl on the phone? Come on, Manti definitely knew about it and basked in the glory that this story was getting him. It raised his draft stock, lifted his team and made him appear to be the ideal role model. He even did an interview 2 days after ND officials were told of the hoax still going along with the "girlfriend" story. He was definitely in on it and tried to cash in on the story book ending. Needless to say he will not be the next "Rudy". What a disgrace!

jettalove2009
jettalove2009

Why is it so easy to believe that Manti was 'in' on it but not that Tuiasosopo could have concocted it on his own?  I have watched Catfish (on MTV) several times and the first time I couldn't believe that people are so gullible.  But as the stories went on, I could understand it more.  People want to see and believe what they want to, even to the point of extreme naivete.  He was obviously missing something in his life and this 'girl' helped fulfill that.

 

My guess is that Tuiasosopo was jealous of Manti.  Tuiasosopo comes from a football family - hi father, uncle, brothers, cousins, played/worked in the NCAA and NFL, but he couldn't make it there himself.  Manti did and will and Tuiasosopo couldn't handle it so decided to make his life miserable.

 

Would you want to talk to the media right now?  The same media that has already labeled him the ultimate liar?  I probably wouldn't.  Only someone 'naive' would automatically assume since he hasn't talked that he's guilty...don't you think??

rgkcowboy
rgkcowboy

 @SusyQStill a boy............What. If it was up to you , you would still be breast feeding this guy. Their are Men (18-19) dying for our country. To feel sorry for this guy , you must be a moron. Why don't you write a letter to all the young service men and women that died for this punk and leave it at that.

 

M20
M20

 @EddieCurran That doesn't prove anything either way. He could have been speaking to someone posing as Kekua. And if he doesn't have phone records, that would only prove that he lied about the phone calls, not that he was in on the hoax.

Fishnlawyr
Fishnlawyr

 @PokeyReese He is NOT 19.  He was sophisticated enough to present the story...repeatedly... to the mass of journalists.    As for the strict time requirements of being a college athlete..and they are monumental... how about this?   Instead of being online or on the phone (who is paying his cell phone bill?), why not go to the Student Center and meet a girl who has hair, eyes, nose, mouth, and all of the other parts to a lady that is so appealing to most guys.    If you can remember the Mel Gibson movie (Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome) there was this ferocious warrior who beat everyone who got into the cage with him (Two men go in..one man comes out)... At the end of the fight it is revealed that the Warrior was a manchild of limited intelligence with a child-like face and attitude.    ARe y'all saying that is what T'eo is really like?   Not too sure he would appreciate the comparison.

Michael R1
Michael R1

 @PokeyReese Perfectly stated. Thanks for articulating the jumbled thoughts & ramblings floating around my head.

JackWilliams
JackWilliams

 @JackWilliams

The real Lennay is 23-year-old Diane O’Meara of Torrance, CA. O’Meara is reportedly a former high school classmate of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, who is believed to be the culprit behind the hoax that used pictures of O’Meara on the internet to either dupe Te’o or work with him to create the hoax.

Boston3
Boston3

 @Anonymous_Source Try to look past your hatred for ND and be objective for ONE minute.  Either Manti Te'o is a ridiculously gullible/thick person who got played and then let himself/his family greatly exaggerate what he thought would be a white lie that he would get burned on.    

 

-OR-  

 

He created the most elaborate, detailed scheme of lies in sports history, which he decided he would capitalize on THREE YEARS later (he met her in 2009).  Do you really think a 19 year old (how old he was when the hoax started) could create such a ridiculous, detailed plan?  If your answer is anything other than 'probably not' then you need to get your brain examined.

 

It's obvious the kid was tricked, and instead of being truthful he let the 'girlfriend' story ride when in fact she wasn't his girlfriend.  He got caught up in the story, which he greatly exaggerated and let play out in the national media.  This is his fault.  But to think he is the MASTERMIND of an insane web of lies that he would stretch out for three years and be played out in front of teammates, coaches, family, friends, and the national media is asinine.  

JackWilliams
JackWilliams

 @GPar

 First, Te'o never bothered to visit the love of his life while she was in the hospital - first for her auto accident, and secondly for her lukemia. After she died, he never went to her funeral. And most damning, he never bothered to contact her family to express his condolences. The only reason these combined situations would normally occur is if her family strongly dislikes the bf and he is not welcome. Otherwise, it is beyond bizarre.  

scBlais
scBlais

 @snowbo2696 Others just want to turn a blind eye to all the facts that show he had to be in on it.

SFBarry
SFBarry

 @snowbo2696 I don't subscribe to conspiracy theories, but check out the facts of what's been told so far.  You've got to admit a few things don't add up.  1) if Tuiasasopo was behind the whole hoax, you're telling me that he was able to get some woman to sit on the phone with Te'o for hours, even overnight, for the sake of a prank? What person would agree to that? 2) if you were the victim of an embarrassing hoax and were scared of the response, why would you voluntarily bring up the issue after you already knew it was fake (re: Dec 8 statement).  3) Tuiasasopo apparently had pranked other people before and after pranking Te'o for months, he had a come to Jesus moment in December and confessed his heart out?  What would possess him to do that after all this time and after he's done it to others as well?

scBlais
scBlais

 @snowbo2696 If you love someone and they are in a serious car accident, you get to them as fast as you can.  Period.  If you love someone and they have cancer and are dying, you get to them as fast as you can and any way that you can.  He called her the "love of my life".  He did not get duped.

TriSilk
TriSilk

Also, if he really wanted to clear his name, he would provide the cell phone numbers of her, her brother and family that he allegedly talked to numerous times. As well as showing his phone records proving that he called and talked to "someone" at that number every night. I think it was a story that just got out of control and be basked in the attention. Just my humble opinion though.

 

Anonymous_Source
Anonymous_Source

 @Boston3  @Anonymous_Source I am being objective. I think maybe you should give it a shot. Try reading the transcript of his interview. He didn't know answers to basic facts that he knew could be checked like her major, what year she graduated or where she worked. The answers that he did give were clearly derived from imagination land.

snowbo2696
snowbo2696

 @scBlais If the only relationship with them you have ever had was long distance, and you've never seen the person, then its reasonable you wouldn't suddenly change the dynamics of the relationship and start taking plane trips across the country. Especially when you have as much going on as a college football player. The one dude has admitted he and his cousins pulled the prank. For some reason people think that just because there's any fact at all they don't know about it, that that means all of this evidence, including the confessions and interviews with everyone he associated with. 

Landware
Landware

 @HoppinBill   

How you can give him the benefit of the doubt when he's been caught lying about multiple incidents?  You think the only lies he's told are the ones that we can prove?  How can you give him the benefit of the doubt when he went to such lengths to emphasize the emotional impact she had on him even though he didn't care enough to see her or video chat with her at all over the course of several years? 

Anonymous_Source
Anonymous_Source

 @HoppinBill  @Landware  @snowbo2696  @scBlais Read the story line, read the transcript of the interview, understand this continued after he knew and only made a statement out of desperation knowing the story was about to be made public. This is not simple online deception. It is a lot more elaborate than that and you know it but prefer to keep things simple.

scBlais
scBlais

 @snowbo2696 He couldn't get a stop over in California on his way back home to Hawaii to visit her in the hospital???  The "relationship" was for 3 years and never included a single face to face even over skype? 

I don't care what the dynamics of a relationship are, when the person you view to be the love of your life is seriously hurt or dying, you go to them.  End of story.

HoppinBill
HoppinBill

 @Landware  @snowbo2696  @scBlais  I know it seems crazy that he didn't check that she existed at all, but I've been in his shoes.  You don't check on someone you develop an online relationship with over a long period of time.  Because in the beginning, you're just friends.  You accept that people are cautious online so you just learn stuff about them by osmosis from conversations... and you fill in the blanks yourself.  By the time real feelings develop, you already feel like you know them.  Clearly they exists for they are there talking to you.  It's not as unbelievable, nor does he have to be as stupid as you think for this to happen.  People really do get blinded by love.  In retrospect, I should have bailed on the 'relationship' that I had much sooner than I did, because it seems really clear now.   But at the time... I wasn't able to see it because I was too close to it.

 

Anyway, cut the dude some slack.  Unless someone comes out and proves that he manipulated the whole thing from the beginning, at least.  I can totally see where he could have ended up where he is.

Landware
Landware

 @snowbo2696  @scBlais 

 

He said he talked to her on the phone for hours every night.  And that they had been dating for a YEAR.  And that she was the love of his life.  Yet, he never made any effort to actually see her that entire time?   Or to,  you know, check that she freaking EXISTED AT ALL.  Like, maybe we should skype, or at least give me something other than 1 or 2 pictures of you. 

 

What about that he lied about meeting her in person, or that he continued to lie about her after he learned she didn't exist?   At the very least, he was making up crap to get publicity, even if he wasn't in on it. 

 

Also, how much evidence do you need??  I guess it's technically possible that he is really this dumb and the hoaxer had a very dedicated team of people, including a female who talked to him at night, and that Te'o just lied about small stuff b/c he was embarrassed about the fact he was misled (or embarrassed that he had on online relationship).  But that seems far more ridiculous than him doing it b/c he a narcissistic a--hole who wanted the publicity and/or wanted to deflect speculation that he's gay in a firmly anti-gay culture (a Mormon football player at a Catholic University - not the most gay friendly environment).