ESPN: Tuiasosopo confessed to a friend that he duped Teo
Posted: 01/18/2013 at 1:00 pm
By: Rachel Terlep
A Notre Dame official has responded to charges that the university cared more about the death of Manti Te’o’s girlfriend than they did the death of a Saint Mary’s College student who died under controversial circumstances.
University spokesman Dennis Brown told The Huffington Post in a story posted on its website that Notre Dame did not ignore Lizzy Seeberg and did not engage in a cover-up in her case.
“Yes, we could have acted a bit more quickly, but we believe it was better to be thorough than fast in order to avoid the rush to judgment that has taken place in other high-profile cases,” Brown wrote to The Huffington Post.
Seeberg accused a Notre Dame football player of sexually assaulting her in 2010 and committed suicide before the police investigation was completed.
NOTRE DAME — The name publicly identified as the mastermind behind the Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax confessed to a friend that he was, in fact, responsible for the fraud.
According to ESPN, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo “called a church friend in early December crying and admitted to duping the Heisman finalist.”
That friend, a woman in her mid-20s who wished to remain anonymous, told ESPN that Tuiasosopo admitted Te’o wasn’t involved in the hoax and that he had been duped by Tuiasosopo’s online persona, “Lennay Kekua.”
“He (Ronaiah) told me that 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.’
“It’s not only Manti, but he was telling me that it’s a lot of other people they had done this to.”
ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” interviewed two people who say they have a cousin who was also a victim of Tuiasosopo’s “Lennay Kekua” persona.
J.R. Vaosa, 28, of Torrance, Calif., and Celeste Tuioti-Mariner, 21, of Whittier, said their cousin began an online relationship in 2008 with a woman named Lennay Kekua whose pictures matched those shown Te’o.
Like Te’o, the cousin would make plans to meet Kekua only to have “her” not show up.
“I just knew that my cousin would invite her to certain events and Lennay would always say she would go to those things, but she would never end up going and instead of her going we would see Ronaiah,” Tuioti-Mariner told ESPN.
Vaosa and Tuioti-Mariner told ESPN that the family eventually convinced their cousins to break off ties with “Kekua.”
Meanwhile, the woman behind those pictures of “Kekua” has been identified as Diane O’Meara, a marketing executive in Los Angeles.
O’Meara told Inside Edition that she has a lawyer but won’t tell her side of the story yet.
According to The Atlantic Wire, O’Meara appears to be a former classmate of Tuiasosopo.