Te'o tells Couric he briefly lied about girlfriend
NEW YORK — Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o admitted to Katie Couric he answered questions about his “dead” online girlfriend even after he received a call Dec. 6 from a woman posing as the fake person.
Te'o also maintained he played no part in the hoax.
Pressed by Couric to admit he was in on the deception, the All-American said he was convinced the woman he knew as Lennay Kekua died in September. Te'o claims he never met Kekua in person but developed a serious relationship with her through phone calls and electronic messages.
“Katie, put yourself in my situation. My whole world told me that she died on Sept. 12. Everybody knew that. This girl, who I committed myself to, died on Sept. 12,” Te'o said in an interview to air Thursday on Couric's syndicated talk show. A segment of the interview with Te'o and his parents was broadcast Wednesday on “Good Morning America.”
“Now I get a phone call on Dec. 6 saying that she's alive, and then, I'm going be put on national TV two days later. And to ask me about the same question. You know, what would you do?” Te'o said.
The Heisman Trophy finalist made at least three references to his girlfriend in media interviews after Dec. 6, including during ESPN's Heisman presentation show Dec. 8.
Te'o's father defended his son when Couric pointed out that many people don't believe the Notre Dame star, suspecting he used the situation for personal gain.
“People can speculate about what they think he is. I've known him 21 years of his life. And he's not a liar. He's a kid,” Brian Te'o said with tears in his eyes.
On Tuesday, the woman whose photo was used as the “face” of the Twitter account of Te'o's supposed girlfriend said the man accused of being behind the hoax confessed and apologized to her.
Diane O'Meara told NBC's “Today” show that Ronaiah Tuiasosopo used pictures of her without her knowledge in creating a fake woman called Lennay Kekua.
Te'o told ESPN last week that Tuiasosopo had contacted him to apologize for the hoax soon after Deadspin.com broke the news. Te'o told ESPN that not until Tuiasosopo confessed did he finally, fully realize Kekua did not exist.
Tuiasosopo has not commented.
The top FBI agent in northern Indiana said authorities don't believe a crime was committed, so there is no investigation.
“I don't think there was any financial harm to Mr. Te'o,” said Robert Ramsey, FBI supervisory special agent for northern Indiana. “There was no federal violation regarding the Internet hoax perpetrated against Mr. Te'o.”
If there were a crime, it would fall under federal jurisdiction, he said.
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.