According to ESPN’s Shelley Smith, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man whom Deadspin suspected to be the perpetrator of the entire Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax, did in fact admit to doing so to a “church friend” in early December. Smith, who spoke with the woman to whom Tuiasosopo confessed, says that he and two cousins, a man and a woman, impersonated the various roles of Lennay Kekua, Te’o’s supposed girlfriend, and her family.
The second revelation, however, is the one we’ve all been waiting for: that Te’o was reportedly not involved whatsoever, and is apparently just the victim of this elaborate hoax. The woman with whom Smith spoke, who has chosen to remain anonymous for her own protection, says she asked Tuiasosopo point blank whether Te’o was involved, and he said “no.” Further confirmation comes from other sources who have come forward, claiming that Tuiasosopo has pulled off the same hoax before using the same character, Lennay Kekua, as the fictitious girlfriend. Tuiasosopo also admitted to the friend that he had pulled off the hoax multiple times before.
“J.R. Vaosa, 28, of Torrance, Calif., and Celeste Tuioti-Mariner, 21, of Whittier, Calif., said that in 2008 their cousin began an online romance with a woman who portrayed herself as a model. Vaosa said the cousin showed Vaosa a picture on MySpace of a woman from a Victoria’s Secret catalog that he said was Kekua. Vaosa said that the online Kekua would agree to meet his cousin at certain places. Vaosa said he went with the cousin to meet her.
‘When Lennay said she was gonna be at this park one day, we’d go to the park and Ronaiah pops up and then we go to the gym in Orange County where the kids have volleyball tournaments, Ronaiah’s there,’ Vaosa said.”
In the coming days more and more pieces will fall into place, but the revelation that Te’o is completely innocent definitely comes as a shock – mostly because it’s difficult to wrap our minds around the fact that Te’o could have a girlfriend without ever having met her.
Smith also went on ESPN Radio with Colin Cowherd and Mike Greenberg just a few moments ago to explain the entire story update with further details – an interview to which you can listen below.