- Last Updated: 6:16 AM, January 31, 2013
- Posted: 1:18 AM, January 31, 2013
The mastermind of the bogus-girlfriend hoax that ensnared Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o pulled the ruse because he was in love with the linebacker — and is “confused” about his own sexuality, he admitted in his first interview about the scandal.
Ronaiah Tuiasosopo revealed in an interview with TV shrink Dr. Phil McGraw that “Lennay Kekua” — the woman Te’o believed he’d been courting for more than a year over the phone — was really an alter-ego for a “romantic relationship” Tuiasosopo wanted with the football player.
“Here we have a young man that fell deeply, romantically in love,’’ Dr. Phil said on a “Today” show segment yesterday promoting his interview, which will air today and tomorrow.
“I asked him straight up, ‘Was this a romantic relationship with you?’
“And he says yes. I said, ‘Are you then, therefore, gay?’ And he said, ‘When you put it that way, yes.’
“And then he caught himself and said, ‘I am confused,’ ” McGraw said.
Te’o has claimed he wasn’t involved in the scam, and McGraw agreed he “absolutely, unequivocally” wasn’t.
Tuiasosopo insisted that he wanted to end the charade, but couldn’t.
“There are many times where Manti and Lennay had broken up before, but every time that, you know, either I would try to end it or he would . . . It’s like they would break up, then something would bring them back together,” Tuiasosopo said.
“Whether it was something going on in his life, or Lennay’s life — in this case in my life — I wanted to end it, because after everything I had gone through, I finally realized that I just had to move on with my life and had to get, you know, my real me, Ronaiah, I had to start just living and let this go.”
Tuiasosopo’s lawyer has claimed that the hoaxer — who comes from a tight-knit, religious family — disguised his voice to sound like a woman during hundreds of phone conversations with Te’o.
But voice experts who have heard messages left for Te’o claim the person on the calls is a woman.
Tuiasosopo has told friends he had help in his hoax, but family members told The Post Ronaiah has refused to name them and is determined to take the rap alone to avoid embarrassing them, sources said.