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Man admitted duping Te’o, woman tells ESPN

  • STAR-ADVERTISER / FEBRUARY 2009
    The man alleged to be behind the hoax of Manti Te'o's girlfriend admitted duping the Notre Dame All-American linebacker, a woman told ESPN's Outside the Lines program.
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The man alleged to be behind the hoax of Manti Te’o’s girlfriend admitted duping the Notre Dame All-American linebacker, a woman told ESPN’s Outside the Lines program.

The woman, whose identity was not revealed, said Ronaiah Tuiasosopo of California cried when he reportedly admitted being involved in the scam. 

“He (Ronaiah) told me 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,” the woman told ESPN. “He was crying; he was literally crying. He’s like ‘I know, I know what I have to do.'”

The woman, described by ESPN as in her 20s and a church friend of Tuiasosopo, said, “It is not only Manti, but he was telling me that it is a lot of other people they had done this to.”

Outside the Lines interviewed two others who said they had family members who had a hoax played on them by Tuiasosopo.

Te’o in a statement released Wednesday said he was embarrassed to acknowledge that he was the victim in an elaborate hoax in which he had a long-distance online and phone relationship with a fictitious woman, whom he knew as Lennay Kekua.

A Notre Dame official also said Wednesday that they believed that Te’o was the victim in the hoax. Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said Te’o learned on Dec. 6 that the purported September death of his “girlfriend” was ficticious when the woman who he believed to be Kekua called him.

However, Te’o has yet to address questions about statements he made to the press about her death from cancer after Dec. 6.

The whole bizarre case became national news after the website deadspin.com published a story Wednesday that Kekua did not exist. The deadspin.com story identified Tuiasosopo as the man behind the scheme, but also raised questions about whether or not Te’o was a willing participant in the hoax.

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