Manti Te’o was talking to man
The woman whose picture was used to create Manti Te’o's fake girlfriend has been identified, but the voice of the woman who had hours of late-night phone calls with the Notre Dame star linebacker has remained silent. Turns out that’s because it reportedly was a man.
The lawyer for the man who has been identified as behind the hoax, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo,told the New York Daily News that his client disguised his voice and assumed the identity of Lennay Kekua to try to develop a relationship with Te’o.
Milton Grimes said that Te’o “thought it was a female he was talking with. It was Ronaiah as Lennay.”
Grimes said that Tuiasosopo wasn’t trying to hurt Te’o.
“This wasn’t a prank to make fun,” Grimes said, according to the newspaper. “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.”
Grimes wouldn’t characterize the type of relationship Tuiasosopo wanted with the Heisman Trophy runner-up.
“I wouldn’t describe his issues at this time,” he said to the Daily News.
How could he get away with it, though? Tuiasosopo, 22, has had dramatic training, plays in a Christian band and even auditioned last year for the television show “The Voice.”
“Come on, Hollywood does it all the time,” Grimes said of his client pretending to be a woman. “People can do that.”
The ruse apparently worked for many, many hours on the phone. A source close to Te’o gave ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap documents that the source says are Te’o's AT&T phone records from May 11 to Sept. 12, the date that Kekua was supposed to have died of leukemia. The logs are not originals, but spreadsheets sent via emails, and could not be independently verified.
The records show that in that four-month span — when Te’o has said he believed Kekua to be in a Los Angeles hospital recovering from an accident and being treated for cancer — Te’o made and received more than 1,000 calls totaling more than 500 hours in length from the same number in the 661 area code. The 661 area code covers Lancaster, Calif., which is part of Los Angeles County. The source told Schaap that Te’o believed the 661 phone number in question was Kekua’s.
Of these calls, 110 were more than 60 minutes in length, including several that were several hundred minutes long. In an ESPN interview Friday, and in interviews with both ESPN and Sports Illustrated last fall, Te’o said he was on the phone “every single night” with a person he believed to be Kekua, often for long stretches late at night.
On Friday, he said to Schaap, “I’d be on the phone. And she had complications from the accident and, she said the only thing that could help her sleep was if I was on the phone. So I would be on the phone, and I’d have the phone on the whole night.”
From the records, it does not appear that Te’o was on the phone every single night for the entire night, but the volume of calls and their duration is sizable.
Meanwhile, the woman whose photo was used as the “face” of the Twitter account of Te’o's supposed girlfriend made an appearance Wednesday, saying the man allegedly behind the hoax confessed and apologized to her.
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