Te'o hoax artist says he was molested
BY PAT EATON-ROBB Associated Press
Saturday, February 02, 2013
2/02/13 at 5:53 AM
The man who says he tricked Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o into falling for a fake woman he created online claims the hoax had "everything to do" with escaping from real life because he had been molested as a child.
Ronaiah Tuiasosopo spoke publicly for the first time in an interview with Dr. Phil McGraw for the "Dr. Phil Show," the second part of which aired Friday.
The 22-year-old Tuiasosopo told McGraw he was repeatedly molested, beginning at age 12, by someone who was close to his father, a church pastor and youth minister.
"I felt that I couldn't do things, accomplish things, pursue things, live out as Ronaiah," Tuiasosopo said. "And I felt the need to create this. It has everything to do with what I went through as a child."
Tuiasosopo did not identify his alleged attacker by name and did not say whether he had told police about his claim.
Tuiasosopo said he built the online persona of Lennay Kekua, a nonexistent woman whom Te'o said he fell in love with despite never meeting in person. Tuiasosopo then killed off the character last September.
He said creating Kekua - who met Te'o online during the player's freshman year at Notre Dame - allowed him to live in an alternate reality and validate that he was a good person.
"When I looked at Lennay through Manti's eyes, I got a glimpse of who I was as far as my heart," said Tuisasosopo, who told McGraw that he fell in love with Te'o.