Share This Page

Man at center of Te'o hoax says he was in love

| Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, 3:06 p.m.
Reuters
Dr. Phil McGraw (L) interviews Ronaiah Tuiasosopo on the set of his show in this handout photo obtained by Reuters Jan. 30, 2013. In the interview airing Jan. 31 and Feb.1, Tuiasosopo, who has admitted to fabricating Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's fake girlfriend in an elaborate hoax, told talk show host Phil McGraw he felt a deep romantic love for the football player, McGraw said. REUTERS

Ronaiah Tuiasosopo fell in love with Manti Te'o and said all his energy went into pretending to be the woman the Notre Dame linebacker came to know as Lennay Kekua.

Tuiasosopo, the 22-year-old mastermind of the elaborate hoax that embarrassed Te'o and left him looking gullible, spoke publicly for the first time in an interview with Dr. Phil McGraw for the “Dr. Phil Show,” the first part of which aired Thursday.

Tuiasosopo said Te'o knew nothing of the scam and doesn't believe he ever suspected Kekua was fake.

“He had no involvement,” Tuiasosopo said. “He did not know anything.”

Tuiasosopo said he felt Kekua was a part of him, and grew feelings and emotions for Te'o that he could not control.

“As twisted and confusing as it may be, yeah, I cared for this person,” he said, referring to Te'o.

Tuiasosopo said he decided to confess to Te'o earlier this month as the hoax was unraveling because he felt he could not go any further with his own life until the truth was out.

“You've heard of recovering drug addicts? It takes a lot of courage to stand and say that,” he said. “To recover from homosexuality and this type of thing.”

Tuiasosopo said he killed the Kekua character on the day Te'o learned his grandmother died, after an argument with the football star.

Te'o had told Kekua he didn't need her.

“It hurt me,” Tuiasosopo said. “It hit me like a brick wall. I was like, ‘Whoa, I've given so much into this.' And I realized right then in that moment, that I poured so much into Lennay, that I myself was getting nothing, and look what I was left with.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

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.