Te'o plays voicemails in interview with Couric
BY RALPH D. RUSSO Associated Press
Friday, January 25, 2013
1/25/13 at 4:46 AM
NEW YORK - The person Manti Te'o says was pretending to be his online girlfriend told the Notre Dame linebacker "I love you" in voicemails that were played during his interview with Katie Couric.
Taped earlier this week and broadcast Thursday, the hour-long talk show featured three voicemails that Te'o claims were left for him last year. Te'o said they were from the person he believed to be Lennay Kekua, a woman he had fallen for online but never met face-to-face.
The interview was the All-American's first on camera since his tale of inspired play after the deaths of his grandmother and girlfriend on the same day in September unraveled as a bizarre hoax by Deadspin.com on Jan. 16.
Couric addressed speculation that the tale was concocted by Te'o as a way to cover up his sexual orientation. Asked if he were gay, Te'o said "no" with a laugh. "Far from it. Faaaar from that."
The first voicemail, he said, was from what was supposed to be Kekua's first day of chemotherapy for leukemia.
"Hi, I am just letting you know I got here and I'm getting ready for my first session and, um, just want to call you to keep you posted. I miss you. I love you. Bye," the person said.
In the second voicemail, the person was apparently upset by someone else answering Te'o's phone.
The third voicemail was left on Sept. 11, Te'o says, the day he believed Kekua was released from the hospital and the day before she "died."
Couric suggested the person who left those messages might have been Ronaiah Tuisasosopo, a 22-year-old man from California, who Te'o said has apologized to him for pulling the hoax.
Also on Thursday, the woman whose pictures were used in fake online accounts for Kekua said Tuiasosopo confessed to her in a 45-minute phone conversation as the scheme unraveled.
Diane O'Meara spoke with The Associated Press in a telephone interview with her attorneys in the room. She said Tuiasosopo told her he'd been taking photos from her Facebook profile for five years.
The 23-year-old O'Meara, of Long Beach, Calif., said she knew Tuiasosopo from high school. O'Meara learned her identity had been stolen on Jan. 13 when she was contacted by Deadspin.com.