The man behind the strange and twisted tale of Notre Dame football star Manti Te'o has come forward to throw yet another wrench in the already convoluted scandal.
In the second part of an interview with TV's Dr. Phil McGraw, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, 22, said that he was driven to invent "Lennay Kekua"--Te'o's dead, then fake girlfriend-- because he was repeatedly molested as a child.
“I felt that I couldn’t do things, accomplish things, pursue things, live out as Ronaiah,” thanks to the trauma of the abuse, which Tuiasosopo said began at age 12. “I felt the need to create this. It has everything to do with what I went through as a child.”
Tuiasosopo revealed in Thursday's interview that he had fallen in love with Te'o, and the alternate persona helped him deal with his own issues.
Tuiasosopo provided samples of himself speaking in "Lennay's voice," which producers of the Dr. Phil Show were able to confirm as a match by three separate laboratories.
It's still not clear how much--if anything, Te'o knew of the hoax. He and Tuiasosopo met during Te'o's freshman year at Notre Dame, but Te'o has continued to deny involvement.
The star linebacker was making a run for the Heisman Trophy (he was ultimately the runner up), and the tragic story of the deaths of his grandmother and his girlfriend on the same day helped fuel the hype. Later, after Deadspin broke the story January 16, Te'o admitted he had never met Lennay Kekua in person, but instead only exchanged emails and phone calls.
Tuiasosopo said he decided to end the relationship--by killing off Lennay--after Te'o's grandmother died and he told "Lennay" "I don't need you."
Take a listen to the voicemails, provided by Te'o, allegedly made by Tuiasosopo: