LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A 22-year-old Palmdale man said he pretended to be Manti Te’o’s fictional girlfriend because he was “in love” with the Notre Dame football star.
Ronaiah Tuiasosopo made the confession in an exclusive two-part interview with Dr. Phil McGraw, which is scheduled to air on CBS2 and KCAL9 Thursday and Friday.
McGraw told CBS2’s Pat Harvey that when the “love” revelation came to light, he then asked Tuiasosopo if he was gay.
“I asked him that…not in an effort to out him in some way. But to see what he had to say about it. He said, ‘Given the fact that I was so romantically involved with (Te’o), I would have to say yes.’ But in the same sentence, he said, ‘I’m confused,’” said McGraw.
In the interview, Tuiasosopo said he ended Te’o’s relationship with “Lennay Kekua,” who he portrayed on social media platforms and in phone calls before she “died,” because he wanted to let go of the faux romance.
“I wanted to end it because after everything that I’ve gone through, I finally realized I had to move on with my life,” Tuiasosopo said.
McGraw told Harvey that the accused hoaxer is a troubled young man.
“There are very serious problems. This is not a well individual. He’s not fragile, but he’s certainly damaged,” he said.
The TV doctor believes the interview showcases an accurate account of what exactly happened between Te’o and Tuiasosopo.
“We talked for hours across multiple days. I’ve maintained a level of skepticism throughout. But I do think we have a pretty representative story of what took place,” McGraw said.