Kelly talks NFL, Te'o
Roniah Tuiasosopo, the man who has confessed to orchestrating the Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax, consented to interview on the Dr. Phil television show, the first part of which was broadcast on Thursday.
[RELATED: It's time to put the Manti Te'o story to bed]
Speaking with Dr. Phil McGraw, Tuiasosopo reaffirmed that Te’o was not a knowing party in the hoax.
"He had no idea,” said Tuiasosopo, “Truthfully, honestly, he had no involvement. He did not know anything."
In regards to the voice that Te’o heard over multiple phone calls and believed to be a woman speaking, Tuiasosopo asserted that it was his own, despite challenges from McGraw that he had contacted independent voice analysts who had deemed it unlikely that Tuiasosopo had been able to produce the voice heard on recordings.
McGraw challenged Tuiasosopo to recreate the Lennay Kekua voice on set, but the resolution of that issue will be dragged out to Friday’s episode, after Tuiasosopo refused to consent to the request until he was allowed to perform behind a privacy screen.
When asked if over the course of the entire relationship, if he had ever forgotten to use the version of his voice that he used to pretend to be Kekua, Tuiasosopo dismissed the notion.
“I’m not trying to be funny, but that’s kind of a rookie mistake,” said Tuiasosopo.
Most of the episode was spent rehashing the history and progression of the relationship between Te’o and, as Tuiasosopo put it, the “character” of Lennay Kekua.
Tuiasosopo claimed that the first contact occurred via Te’o sending a friend request to the Facebook account he had created for Kekua, and recalled meeting Te’o in person and contemplating revealing the hoax on the night of Notre Dame’s game against USC on Nov. 24.
“I wanted to tell him everything right then and there,” said Tuiasosopo, “But shortly after, his uncle and a lot of his uncle’s friends and some other family all came in, and it wasn’t the right time.”
Tuiasosopo claimed that the story of Kekua’s death from leukemia, which became a national story before being unraveled by Deadspin's Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey, was the final of many attempts to end the online relationship.
“I was just trying everything to end it,” said Tuiasosopo, “Because I knew that no matter what, it just wasn’t right, and it was never going to be.”
The second part of the interview will air on Friday’s episode of “Dr. Phil”, at 3pm CST.