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Dr. Phil: Hoaxer was 'deeply, romantically' in love with Te'o

By Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 05:32 a.m. HST, Jan 31, 2013


SOUTH BEND, Ind. » Dr. Phil McGraw says Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, who masterminded the dead girlfriend hoax involving Manti Te'o, told him the Notre Dame linebacker was not involved in the scheme and that he ended up falling "deeply, romantically" in love with the football player.

McGraw spoke on the "Today" show today, previewing an interview he did with Tuiasosopo, a 22-year-old California man who created the fictional woman Te'o knew as Lennay Kekua. Tuiasosopo's interview with McGraw will air in two parts on the "Dr. Phil Show" starting Thursday.

Since the hoax was revealed earlier this month, Te'o has said the relationship with Kekua started online and eventually became serious, even though the two only talked on the phone and exchanged electronic messages, never meeting in person. Te'o said he was told of Kekua's "death" from leukemia just hours after his grandmother died in September.

McGraw said Tuiasosopo told him the voice of Kekua was his. Tuiasosopo and Te'o have each said that while the Kekua relationship went on for several years, there were times when they weren't in contact.

"There were many times where Manti and Lennay had broken up. But something would bring them back together whether it was something going on in his life, or in Lennay's life, in this case in my life," Tuiasosopo said.

Tuiasosopo said he wanted to end the relationship between Kekua and Te'o before he had to fake Kekua's death.

"I wanted to end it because everything I had gone through, I finally realized that I just had to move on with my life and I had to get me, Ronaiah, I had to start just living and let this go," Tuiasosopo said.

Te'o's publicist, Matthew Hiltzik, declined comment on behalf of Te'o and his family.

When the ruse was reported by Deadspin.com on Jan. 16, the report raised the questions about whether Te'o was involved. The story about how he played inspirationally after the deaths of his girlfriend and grandmother led to an outpouring of support from Notre Dame fans. It became the backdrop to Fighting Irish's undefeated regular season and run to the BCS championship game, where they lost to Alabama.

Te'o won seven national awards for his play and was runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. He has denied any involvement from the beginning, and Notre Dame said an investigation of the player's claims backed up his story.

"The feelings, the pain, the sorrow, that was all real," Te'o told Katie Couric in an interview last week.

McGraw says "absolutely, unequivocally" Te'o had no role in creating the hoax.

Te'o said he first learned that something was amiss when Kekua called him on Dec. 6, and told him she had faked her death.

He told his parents about what had happened while home for Christmas break and called Notre Dame coaches on Dec. 26 to let them know. Notre Dame officials said that interviewed Te'o and retained Stroz Friedberg, a New York computer forensics firm to investigate the case. They learned on Jan. 3 that there were no records indicating Lennay Kekua existed.

McGraw said he spent hours with Tuiasosopo and his parents, saying he had a number of life experiences that "damaged this young man in some very serious ways."

McGraw said Tuiasosopo had feelings for Te'o.

"Here we have a young man that fell deeply, romantically in love," McGraw said.

McGraw said he asked Tuiasosopo if he is gay.

"He said, 'Well, when you put it that way, yes.' Then he caught himself and said, 'I am confused,'" McGraw said.

Te'o also was asked by Couric if he is gay. Te'o said "no" with a laugh. "Far from it. Faaaar from that," he said.

Te'o said in the interview with Couric that when Tuiasosopo tweeted him a direct message on Jan. 16 saying he had been behind the hoax. The message read: "I completely accept the consequences to the pain I've caused & it's important that you know the truth before anyone else."

Te'o told Couric that Tuiasosopo later called him and explained what he did.

"He didn't say why. He just explained that he just wanted to help people and that was his way of helping people. Of being someone that he wasn't and trying to connect with somebody on a different level to help them out," Te'o said.

Te'o said he didn't say much to Tuiasosopo.

"I just found that everything that I believed to be my reality wasn't my reality at all," Te'o said.

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jomama wrote:
Glad Dr. Phil got to the bottom of this. Now I can rest easy.
on January 30,2013 | 06:49AM
OldDiver wrote:
Heh. Throw away the sleeping pills.
on January 30,2013 | 08:46AM
atilter wrote:
who's this dr pill? who cares what he has to say? a non-story trying to ride on the coat-tails of the wind!!!
on January 30,2013 | 07:04AM
8082062424 wrote:
well when the media go out and put some one life for everyone to judge they should be able to tell the full story not half a story. And the fact that Tuiasosopo is gay add more info to it. Dr Phill states "Ronaiah had a number of life experiences that damaged this young man in some very serious ways," McGraw said.. i wonder how the gay agenda will play this
on January 30,2013 | 07:18AM
allie wrote:
Dr. Phil is a media joke. Manti is really a jokster who embarrassed himself, Punahou and Notre dame. He needs to avoid any more contact with entertainment shows and get to work in his fading career.
on January 30,2013 | 09:18AM
fishwrider wrote:
lol, can't handle the truth sir? On the contrary, this backs-up what Manti has been saying all along. It does make your hateful rantings about Manti and Hawaii look FOOLISH, though. OWNED.
on January 30,2013 | 09:23AM
allie wrote:
huh? Didn't you hear the O'Reiley assessment of the insanity?
on January 30,2013 | 10:26AM
turbolink wrote:
Allie, you certainly rushed to another "boring" (your word) installment of the T'eo saga to add a useless comment.
on January 30,2013 | 10:43AM
312guy wrote:
oreilley what a joke angry man thats all he is
on January 30,2013 | 07:52PM
csdhawaii wrote:
Bah. alllie reveals her(him)self once again. No self-respecting college student would watch old curmudgeon O'Reilly. Y'all just stop feeding the troll and let himher talk to himherself.
on January 31,2013 | 12:03AM
allie wrote:
huh? I read/watch/know everything
on January 31,2013 | 05:41AM
8082062424 wrote:
if any one a joke it you. what a matter cant take you was wrong. Or is it jealousy that he achieved way more in his life then you ever would. at least he does not live off those special government dollars like you do. geeze he even smarter then you
on January 30,2013 | 09:54AM
kalai wrote:
AGREE!
on January 30,2013 | 10:41AM
kalai wrote:
Go back to north dakota!
on January 30,2013 | 10:41AM
Aquarius1 wrote:
Awwww, Allie. Were you rejected by Manti, too? ARe you just catfish, too?!!!
on January 30,2013 | 10:56AM
turbolink wrote:
Allie seems very interested in each installment of a crisis involving sexual identity. To quote Allie, "hmmmm."
on January 30,2013 | 11:12AM
roxy1843 wrote:
Good pne
on January 30,2013 | 11:39AM
kahu808 wrote:
Fa'afafine? allie? Fa'afafine?
on January 30,2013 | 11:09AM
Mikilai wrote:
hahahahaha best funny comment today
on January 30,2013 | 12:24PM
Malani wrote:
He said he not.
on January 30,2013 | 04:53PM
aomohoa wrote:
So you know everything about Dr. Phil as well as everything else in live? You have lived and learned so much for someone so young. LOL!
on January 30,2013 | 11:09AM
roxy1843 wrote:
Allie you have no heart! His career will be just fine. You're the joke!
on January 30,2013 | 11:39AM
aomohoa wrote:
It would shock me if you are ever any where near as successful as either. You are the joke Allie and should not judge anyone.
on January 30,2013 | 01:07PM
tsushimama wrote:
This is amazing. When the story first broke, just about every comment was that Manti should make a statement and clear up his side of the story. Then he does and he is criticized for doing it off camera. So he does the Couric interview on camera and is criticized for that. This shouldn't be a measure of Manti, it is a statement of the times and coupling of a young naive man wth a troubled person who played him. Happens all the time and will continue to happen. No big thing.
on January 30,2013 | 03:38PM
cunfuzd4 wrote:
Coming from a chronic liar such as yourself such comments are completely inappropriate. If anyone would know about embarrassment it would be you allie after having been caught in so many lies and misinterpretation of facts. It's to the point that you ALL-LIE has become the biggest joke there is.
on January 30,2013 | 05:15PM
aomohoa wrote:
Where have you been if you don't know who Dr. Phil is.? LOL!
on January 30,2013 | 11:08AM
busterb wrote:
No kukae Dr. Phil! What a revelation!
on January 30,2013 | 07:06AM
localguy wrote:
What ever Manti Te'o's sexual orientation is does not take away from his football accomplishments at Notre Dame and his graduation form a very highly respected university. He has nothing to be ashamed of for his accomplishments. His being scammed by a very low life, no integrity person is a sad event. Not everyone is totally cyber wise, I doubt this is his main area of interest, easy prey for this sick scammer. I truly hope Manti is drafted in to the NFL, has a very successful and safe football career before moving on to another career. Put it all behind you Manti, life goes on.
on January 30,2013 | 07:29AM
MS7 wrote:
I totally agree with you. Manti is still a solid linebacker and he will get drafted into the NFL. The media did a great job a ripping apart so ones charcter before getting all the facts! So of us are still behind you Manti!!!!!!
on January 30,2013 | 07:40AM
kk808 wrote:
Well said!
on January 30,2013 | 07:56AM
roxy1843 wrote:
Yes indeed!
on January 30,2013 | 11:40AM
aomohoa wrote:
It's nice t hear a little Aloha localguy. Mahalo!
on January 30,2013 | 11:41AM
localguy wrote:
aomohoa - I feel Manti has been and will be a solid sports and education role model for younger kids. I really doubt he was in to computers like some of us. When I worked for DoD, we had regular cyber security training, on the lookout for fraud and abuse. People need to think how they would feel in Manti's position, his mistake exposed to everyone on the Net and nation wide TV. He could have done like bureaucrats do, just hunker down and hope it goes away. He had more integrity, went on TV with Dr. Phil. How many of us could do that? Way to go Manti, you will always be a success in our eyes. PS: I would never slam an innocent victim like Manti when there are so many dysfunctional bureaucrats deserving of our wrath.
on January 30,2013 | 03:08PM
tutunona wrote:
Enough is enough..........let Te,o and family have some peace.........the media drags out too much
on January 30,2013 | 07:41AM
allie wrote:
true..let this private matter rest. It is such a bore.
on January 30,2013 | 09:19AM
fishwrider wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on January 30,2013 | 09:25AM
allie wrote:
huh? You need anatomy lessons or new glasses!
on January 30,2013 | 10:27AM
turbolink wrote:
Still upset you didn't make the team Allie? We get it. We understand you are so starved for attention you resort to desperate remarks. If you go to a wedding, even as a guy, you want to be the bride. If you go to a furneral, you want to be the deceased.
on January 30,2013 | 10:50AM
aomohoa wrote:
Let's see if you graduate this year. Or if you are "student" 5 years from now.
on January 30,2013 | 11:11AM
cunfuzd4 wrote:
aomoha - he's just going to change his alias in this forum just like a couple of his cohorts did.
on January 30,2013 | 05:30PM
IAmSane wrote:
You can put this matter to bed by posting a photo of your UH student ID with your photo and last name blackened out, hon.
on January 30,2013 | 01:13PM
fishwrider wrote:
Don't tempt him, allie may jack an id off of some unsuspecting female student and present it as his own. As we (and Manti) know, an internet photo or facebook page isn't proof of who a person is in real life. A real life face to face, however, would put to rest all questions but of course the dude can't do that.
on January 30,2013 | 01:55PM
IAmSane wrote:
He should black out his last name but keep the first name on there. A UH student ID with the name "Allie" (or whatever that's supposed to be short for) on it should be proof enough that he is who he say he is.
on January 30,2013 | 02:22PM
cunfuzd4 wrote:
that can easily be falsified in Photoshop or GIMP even by one as incompetent as ALL-LIE
on January 30,2013 | 05:46PM
cunfuzd4 wrote:
allie - anatomy lessons from someone as sexually (and otherwise) conflicted as you?? As if a useless dolt such as yourself would be able to teach anyone anything other than being an absolute joke. You are so reminiscent of a fly, you keep buzzing around annoying the hell out of everyone, contribute nothing, and you eat and sh*t from your mouth.
on January 30,2013 | 05:22PM
aomohoa wrote:
You are the bore allie! Yes it should be a private matter. Not going to happen with the media they way it is.
on January 30,2013 | 11:42AM
Malani wrote:
Get real. It was not us the public who made this news a public event.
on January 30,2013 | 04:54PM
cunfuzd4 wrote:
ALl-LIE - funny you should say that given that you're always the first to throw stones at other's shortcomings and given the amount of comments you've made regarding Te'o.
on January 30,2013 | 05:38PM
CriticalReader wrote:
Consider this: A . . . . . . . . B . . . . . . . . C. The media started at "A". We, including the media who is wholly responsible for EVERYTHING we know, are now at "B". The truth is actually at "C". In terms of accuracy, the media blew it between "A" and "B" almost completely. Pretty sad.
on January 30,2013 | 07:59AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Dr. Phil creeps me out.
on January 30,2013 | 08:10AM
BigOpu wrote:
lol!
on January 30,2013 | 08:28AM
oxtail01 wrote:
And you watch him daily!
on January 30,2013 | 08:44AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
You creep me out, too.
on January 30,2013 | 03:02PM
cunfuzd4 wrote:
then why do you watch his show?
on January 30,2013 | 05:42PM
twitter6 wrote:
I think a lot of people suspected Ronaiah was gay. His name is unisex so no need to change his name. Teo was the victim, Ronaiah was the scam artist perpetrator. Case closed and Manti needs to move forward to the NFL. Yesterday's news, people need to move on.
on January 30,2013 | 08:44AM
niimi wrote:
You know.... dakine!
on January 30,2013 | 08:59AM
LRC wrote:
I knew he was gay!!!
on January 30,2013 | 09:01AM
oxtail01 wrote:
Is it true about "takes one to know one"?
on January 30,2013 | 09:30AM
fishwrider wrote:
LOL!!!!! Not that there's anythign wrong with that.
on January 30,2013 | 10:42AM
aomohoa wrote:
If he is gay or not, who cares.
on January 30,2013 | 11:44AM
WF808 wrote:
Faafafine or not, it is best not to mess with them.
on January 30,2013 | 09:09AM
Carang_da_buggahz wrote:
Just what is it with Dr. Phil? He reminds me of that attorney Gloria Allred. Somehow, someway, they seem to find their way into the most High Profile cases around, like they have some kind of manic obsession to insert themselves into the public's eye. Nothing but Grandstanders who have an insatiable need for publicity and who thrive on some imagined (pseudo)-Celebrity status.
on January 30,2013 | 09:42AM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
Dr. Phil is not exacltly a psychologist without scandal of his own. Go to this link regarding his troubles with others and his show: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/03/17/dr-phil-mcgraw-six-lawsuits-and-scandals.html. And his show does not do anything to absolve Manti Te'o of his of deceptive actions one of which involved not telling the public the truth when asked about his "girlfriend". Why is this relevant to the case? Because he stood to lose the Heisman Trophy. It is obvious that he chose to not disclose the truth, his truth is a half truth, in order to continue to garner sympathy votes for the Heisman Trophy to which he, fortunately, did not ultimately win.
on January 30,2013 | 09:56AM
serious wrote:
You are correct. Dr Phil got his start by teaching Oprah how to lie in court on the beef remarks she made. Takes one to know one. Surprised he's still on the air!!
on January 30,2013 | 10:17AM
silvangold wrote:
OMG - will this tragic comedy never end with continually new pieces to the out of control puzzle?????????????????
on January 30,2013 | 10:20AM
Loki wrote:
Please let this story go away. It gets weirder by the day.
on January 30,2013 | 10:44AM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
man I thought we were pau with this already.
on January 30,2013 | 11:10AM
Morimoto wrote:
I bet Teo will never live this down. I mean a lot of us are pretty stupid at 21 years old but his situation is kind of ridiculous. With everything we know about the internet and all the deception that goes on, he was still duped.
on January 30,2013 | 11:33AM
Carang_da_buggahz wrote:
Give the kid a break. When compared to other things that college jocks have done (some even criminal), this is quite a trivial matter. He's still young. We've all done some dumb things when we were that age. He just needs some maturing, that's all. I still believe that he's basically a good kid who naively got led around by the nose by some very mean-spirited people. The outcry is misdirected and should be laid on Ronaiah Tuiasosopo. What a despicable thing to do to a young man.
on January 30,2013 | 12:02PM
inverse wrote:
Tuiasosopo appears to be fa'afa fine, a third gender category that is integrated in the Samoan culture. Personally I don't care which way the door swings with Teo however this whole mess was brought upon himself and now he has to live with it. If Teo makes in the NFL this will never go away as part of job description of an NFL player to be well known to the public, attempt or at lest fake to be a positive role model and basically win a popularity contest. After this mess and his performance against Alabama, he will not be drafted early but he will be given a fair chance to make it in the NFL. The only thing left now is for him and his family to just stop talking and granting interviews and just let this die down; right after Tuiasosopo and the real woman who Tuiasosopo pretended to be the picture of Lennay Kekua, get their 15 minutes of fame and then hopefully fade away into the background. Throughout high school and college, Teo has lived a protected and sheltered life and it will remain to be seen whether he has the will, drive or intestinal fortitude to make it the NFL WITHOUT everyone watching out for him or protecting him under mama's skirt. Given his size and stature in high school and college, NO ONE bullied or hassled him. HOWEVER when he tries to make it in the NFL the taunting, physical hits on the field and subtle/ not so subtle nastiness against him for his imaginary girlfriend/ and his "orientation" will be merciless UNTIL he can establish as himself as a legitimate NFL player that deserves a six/seven figure salary and regular play time.
on January 30,2013 | 12:00PM
Mililani wrote:
Well said and done, I agree whole heartedly. Manti will do well with support from his family and friends and community.
on January 30,2013 | 12:22PM
Mikilai wrote:
Te'o was really in love with the so called woman "Lenay Kekua", and now that she has come forward and doing interviews I wonder if Te'o will reach out to her or still has feelings for her? Obviously he fell in love with her beauty and it would actually be a beautiful thing if these two were to ever come together as a couple.
on January 30,2013 | 12:30PM
Ipo_Mom wrote:
This whole thing is going from bad to worse.... Enough already!!!
on January 30,2013 | 12:51PM
Mikilai wrote:
why? the actual woman is very intelligent and beautiful and has a great career. I'm not sure if she is taken or married but if she is single who knows where it will go...
on January 30,2013 | 03:06PM
honokai wrote:
He is still well ahead of all the haters. A certain big money NFL contract and an entire future ahead of him. Do we really judge ourselves based on media scandal? Most people I know (good people) really don't care about any of this. If this is a big deal for you, than that is just a reflection on you not the rest of us.
on January 30,2013 | 01:27PM
ellinaskyrt wrote:

There's a bit of justice in the sense that Manti's father, Brian Teo, called for Manti's fans to boycott the Star-Advertiser because it printed an unflattering, yet completely factual and real, picture of Manti being "bowled over" by Alabama after ND lost so badly. The elder Teo took the factual SA sports coverage very personally, claiming that he had previously allowed the SA a certain level of privileged access to his son and yet, "this is how (the SA) paid (them) back and that he wouldn't allow any future access.

Manti's poor performance in the championship game was a sizable contributing factor to Alabama's thrashing of ND. That's a fact. How badly he did will also be a contributing factor when NFL teams consider whether to sign him on. That's one thing.

Another thing: Manti made the "death" of his fake girlfriend - coincidentally, on the same day as the real death of his real grandmother - a part of his personal and sports triumph. This narrative helped him greatly in the pursuit of the Heisman award, which he ultimately did not win.

Similarly, this narrative of overcoming huge personal obstacles, which the Teos actively cultivated, would have been useful in Manti's pursuit of a professional football career. Yes, it's one thing to win a game right after one's beloved grandmother dies; it's superhuman to win after both one's grandma and girlfriend--almost a fiance, by Brian Teo's statement to the press at one point that Lennay was expected to become Manti's wife--both die. A player who can do that is valuable in the NFL, indeed.

(On a side note, no one cared that about the Alabama QB's girlfriend until her looks were noticed by the media. The QB himself didn't insert her into the picture. Compare and contrast.)

The public revelation about the truth behind "Lennay" was far more humiliating to the Teos than Manti's lackluster game against Alabama. Can't help but think that it was bachi, but exponentially so. It's no wonder that not much has been heard from the elder Teo since his chest-beating call to arms against the SA. Sometimes the PR and personal image nightmare is of your own making and right under your nose, and not created by the media itself.


on January 30,2013 | 01:32PM
fishwrider wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on January 30,2013 | 02:00PM
ellinaskyrt wrote:
Nihil ad rem.
on January 30,2013 | 02:19PM
hanalei395 wrote:
Tuiasosopo, a weird mahu, is safer staying in California, and away from other Samoans.
on January 30,2013 | 03:47PM
awahana wrote:
This whole scandal does not help Hawaii's image.
Its bad enough I have to keep defending that we are not 'hillbillys on an island' here, but now this.
Can't imagine what's going to happen next in Hawaii Nei this year to top this one...
on January 30,2013 | 08:46PM
allie wrote:
true...embarrassing stuff
on January 31,2013 | 05:42AM
Terii_Kelii wrote:
i would be deeply in love too! Manti is a 10 fine looking sole with a heart of gold!!!!
on January 31,2013 | 07:46AM
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