New details continue to emerge regarding Manti Te’o’s fake girlfriend hoax.
Last week, it was discovered that Lennay Kekua, who supposedly died of Leukemia, was not a real person. The person who Te’o spent many hours talking on the phone with was not the person he thought. In fact, it wasn’t a woman at all.
Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man who created Lennay Kekua, has admitted that it was he who talked to Te’o over the phone, impersonating a female’s voice. Tuiasosopo’s lawyer, Milton Grimes, told the New York Daily News that Tuiasosopo pretended to be a woman, and shared long conversations with the Notre Dame linebacker.
“It was Ronaiah as Lennay,” said Grimes.
It might be hard for some to believe that Te'o couldn’t tell he was talking to a 22-year-old man, but Grimes related it to an actor playing the role of a woman.
“Come on, Hollywood does it all the time. People can do that.”
It’s the first time that any word has come from Tuiasosopo, since Deadspin broke the story. According to Grimes, Tuiasosopo did not perpetrate the hoax for money or to make fun of Te’o.
“It was establishing a communication with someone. ... It was a person with a troubled existence trying to reach out and communicate and have a relationship.”
The revelation comes shortly after Te’o sat down for an interview with Katie Couric. He told Couric that he was a victim and didn’t play any role in creating Kekua’s existence. However, he did admit to lying about his girlfriend after he got a phone call in December from Tuiasosopo posing as Kekua. Te’o was told that his girlfriend had died in September.
“Katie, put yourself in my situation,” Te’o said to Couric. “This girl, who I committed myself to, died on Sept. 12. Now I get a phone call on Dec. 5, saying that she’s alive and then I’m going to be put on national TV two days later.”
Grimes claims that Tuiasosopo wants to talk about what happened, and is currently seeing a mental health professional.