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Report: Tuiasosopo’s female cousin was voice behind Te’o hoax

Manti Te'o Workout at IMG Academy Getty Images

Another day, another layer to the Manti Te’o hoax story. It seems it won’t be too much longer before we start running out of layers — barring a dramatic and breaking development, that is.

Yesterday, the lawyer representing Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man believed to be behind the Lennay Kekua hoax, claimed his client was the voice on the other end of the line during phone calls between “Kekua” and Te’o. On the same day, and in an interview with Katie Couric, Te’o shared multiple voicemails said to be from Kekua. All of them contained what sounded like a girl’s voice on the other end. If Te’o was truly duped to the extent he claims, it would have been understandable to not think twice about the sex of the person on the other end.

Conversely, it would be nothing short of astonishing if in fact Tuiasosopo was the voice — unless some type of alteration device was used — if for no other reasons than the consistency and length of time needed to make the hoax believable. That by itself is worthy of cynicism.

“If he somehow made that voice, that’s incredible, that’s an incredible talent to do that. Especially every single day,” Te’o told Curic.

But, here we are a day later, and it turns out Ronaiah Tuiasosopo may not have been the one speaking to Te’o after all. According to the New York Post, it was Tuiasosopo’s female cousinTino Tuiasosopo, speaking to Te’o over the phone. One of Tino’s cousins told the paper “There is no doubt whatsoever that it’s Tino” after listening to the voicemails.

ABC News also took the voicemails to audio experts, who said it’s “impossible” for the voice on those messages to be coming from a man. The Post adds that Tino Tuiasosopo works for her dad’s construction company, a detail Te’o mentioned when describing Kekua. Te’o also claimed previously in an interview with ESPN’s Jeremy Schapp that “Two guys and a girl are responsible for the whole thing.

What incentive Tino Tuiasosopo would have for being the voice of Kekua is unknown. Ronaiah Tuiasosopo’s attorney, Milton Grimes, did not reply to requests to comment by the Post.

So what does all this mean? Even though we’re over a week into this story, we’re not much closer to knowing what’s really going on. And we probably never will.

If Ronaiah Tuiasosopo was “determined to take the rap” as one of his relatives told the Post, who’s to say he’s not doing so for Te’o? Multiple accounts have stated Ronoaiah Tuiasosopo not only confessed to duping Te’o, but apologized — sometimes while crying. And none of this explains why Te’o informed Notre Dame of the hoax three weeks after he received a call from the suddenly alive “Kekua” — she reportedly passed away from leukemia last September — but later noted he didn’t fully believe it was a hoax until the Deadspin story broke.

Instead of becoming clearer with time, every twist and turn has made this story stranger, so it’s hard to know what to discredit and what to believe no matter how bizarre.

Te’o spoke publicly about the situation to Couric without shedding much additional light. That will likely be the last time he does so until he interviews with NFL clubs at the upcoming combine. The Tuiasosopo’s, meanwhile can’t even get their own story straight.

Don’t expect any of this to clear up soon.

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49 Responses to “Report: Tuiasosopo’s female cousin was voice behind Te’o hoax”
  1. kozbee says: Jan 25, 2013 12:14 PM

    Their covering up the stupid thing Teo did but everyone knows what an azz he is to make those think he really had a girlfriend.Teo even a dead girlfriend wouldnt help you win the Heisman,they give them to normal people…

  2. bender4700 says: Jan 25, 2013 12:19 PM

    No offense Ben but the horse has long been beaten and is dead.

    It’s ran it’s course. And did a few more laps.

  3. roundup5 says: Jan 25, 2013 12:20 PM

    In the long run, it is not going to matter because Te’o
    will not be playing in the NFL, once teams see the
    real Te’o perform. Yes, he played wonderfully for
    ol Notre Dame; Notre Dame is not the NFL.

  4. normswifevera says: Jan 25, 2013 12:36 PM

    Now here’s the next shoe to drop. Where does this girl live? American Samoa. And when ex-Cardinals’ fullback Reagan Maui’a came out and said that he met Lennay, where did he say it happened? American Samoa.

    She wasn’t just impersonating this girl on the phone, she was doing it in person.

    The sports media got punked on the Te’o hoax, and then Maui’a speaks out with what he knows. Does the media even try looking into his story? Nope.

    Way to learn a lesson.

  5. xtremesportsmaniac says: Jan 25, 2013 12:37 PM

    It’s hard to find the truth in a room full of liars.

  6. Ben Kercheval says: Jan 25, 2013 12:40 PM

    No offense taken, Bender. I would say the lede — even the whole tone — covers that we’re winding down on this.

  7. pacific123ocean says: Jan 25, 2013 12:54 PM

    WOW! This thing won’t end until Tuiasosopo actually tells his story. The media/bloggers will camp out on his front lawn as long as it takes.

  8. mgscott says: Jan 25, 2013 12:54 PM

    Wondering how long this can drag out

  9. joebone says: Jan 25, 2013 1:01 PM

    I know that Notre Dame would never lower its academic standards for a football player, but it would be very interesting to know when Manti was attending classes and doing his homework, since he apparently was on the phone continuously when he wasn’t on the field.

    By the way, Tino gives great “phone” doesn’t she!

  10. florida727 says: Jan 25, 2013 1:06 PM

    #mgscott, easy question to answer. It can drag out until the truth is truly discovered. Will it drag out that long? Probably not. Some other professional or amateur athlete will do something equally stupid, or some other disaster will occur, and then we’ll follow that story for awhile. It’s the nature of sports reporting, and fan interest in that reporting.

  11. sadskinsfan89 says: Jan 25, 2013 1:38 PM

    And I just met the Easter Bunny. Dudes a liar. He was in on it from the get go

  12. jordan2323 says: Jan 25, 2013 1:47 PM

    Media needs to stop playing into the hands of this dude’s publicity stunt. He is completely part of the hoax. Tired of him being all over the media about this, and getting his own “bottom line” on espn. let it go already!

  13. Tim's Neighbor says: Jan 25, 2013 2:01 PM

    If anyone has any proof of Te’o being in on it, please share. All proof so far has gone the opposite way. Not saying Te’o is innocent or not naive or whatever, but proof outside of speculation is needed. And if there is speculation, please share why it is rational.

    And please, don’t say he made her up for the Heisman. He started the account WELL before this season.

  14. ridingwithnohandlebars says: Jan 25, 2013 2:08 PM

    Well that is slightly less creepy.

  15. lovinthatsomanyhateonnd says: Jan 25, 2013 2:09 PM

    im tired of pathetic reporters trying to put the master spin on this to keep it going. heres the deal, he withheld what he knew cause even he didnt know what was real and what wasnt. To which i present this question: what would you do if you were told something you thought was real was in fact fake? would you rush to tell the world, or try to figure out what was fact and what was fiction. He isnt Jesus, he isnt perfect….and neither are any of you…I only hope and pray you people are afforded more compassion in your times of trials and tribulations.

  16. guinsrule says: Jan 25, 2013 2:10 PM

    Has anyone investigated whether any of these people involved, placed a large bet on Alabama in the BCS championship game?

  17. onlyinthenfl says: Jan 25, 2013 2:21 PM

    This story is so over hyped and over blown its laughable. I guess that is why it is all over the headlines. Can some please make this story go away, this is not news.

  18. elwaysmilehighdenver says: Jan 25, 2013 2:26 PM

    Lovinthatsomanyhateonnd………..Teo LIED! Mormonism teaches that it is a sin to lie. He repeatedly lied plane and simply.
    No other way to spin it. You are right when you say none of us is Jesus. We are not perfect. But he lied and embellished the TRUTH when standing before the media leading up to the Heisman and NC!

  19. iknowzeroaboutsports says: Jan 25, 2013 2:29 PM

    “So what does all this mean?”

    That there are enough idiots paying attention to this nonsense to keep the story going. Please stop cluttering up my newsfeed.

  20. thebadguyswon says: Jan 25, 2013 3:01 PM

    Enough of this story please. Ugh.

  21. joewilliesshnoz says: Jan 25, 2013 3:15 PM

    Another moron from Notre Dame, go figure !

  22. jason1214 says: Jan 25, 2013 3:19 PM

    Manti is a moron/liar…lets move on

  23. Tim's Neighbor says: Jan 25, 2013 3:21 PM


    Correct. He lied. And he’s owned up to that. I think the showing compassion standpoint stems from this being and embarrassed 21 year old who got hoaxed in front of the nation. No one would want to face that. Did he make it worse? Sure. But there is still a human over there who was hurt.

    We readily forgive rapists, dog killers and murderers. Ray Lewis is beloved and what he did was much, much worse. We forgive spouse abusers, DUIs and thieves. Doug Gotlieb himself was even judging Te’o. This whole thing is sad (though admittedly it has inspired some funny jokes).

    Te’o lied. He’s apologized and he’s taken his lumps publicly. Hopefully we can move on soon or at least show some compassion if you are so inclined. But to act like he’s a monster or the dumbest person in the world is too much for a story that so many say doesn’t matter.

  24. zemaniak says: Jan 25, 2013 3:25 PM

    Ah, comment section: the land of the uneducated, super-opinionated troll
    I’d love the ND/ Te’o bashers to make their case that supports their claims.
    Thank God the justice system isn’t based off tour primitive lynch mob mentality.

    Oh, look ! A WITCH! BURN HER!!

  25. pricecube says: Jan 25, 2013 3:28 PM

    @Tim’s Neighbor

    “If anyone has any proof of Te’o being in on it, please share.”

    Unfortunately Te’o is the only person with that kind of proof in the form of his phone records. So far he has not released them which should tell you something…

    At this point I do not care. Regardless, I have made up my mind about Manti based on other facts. Manti claims the fictional Kekua was the “love of his life” yet never bothered to visit her while dying variously from a car wreck and then cancer. Furthermore he never even attended her funeral. Let me ask you a question. If he is not lying what kind of person acts like that?

  26. houstonoilers says: Jan 25, 2013 3:41 PM

    Come on Te’o fess up now while you’r only knee deep in it, all this crying on tv only makes you look more ridiculous. I believe the Canadian Football Leauge likes the emotional guys.

  27. florida727 says: Jan 25, 2013 3:43 PM

    #elway, just curious, do you know of a religion where lying is NOT a sin? This has nothing to do with Mormonism.

  28. dkhhuey says: Jan 25, 2013 3:45 PM

    Jesus – enough!!!

  29. jprcox says: Jan 25, 2013 3:50 PM

    Has a crime been committed or not? I can see this story being big if the media found they were seeking to defraud Te’o of money or something – but for it to be simply about a “prank” that went on too long….this is really not much of a story.

    If the law isn’t doing much about it, why is this so important. So some kids made a prank that got out of control – big deal.

  30. hooterdawg says: Jan 25, 2013 3:54 PM

    Is it just a coincidence that all the participants in this fraud are Samoans? Does it strike anyone how odd it is that this whole scam is Samoan-on-Samoan crime? Well, crime in the sense that it is presented as Soamoans victimizing their own in a cruel hoax. Has the Samoan community’s sense of family values has gone south, or it is more likely that they worked together in concert to help one of their own – Te’o – improve his Heisman chances with increased publicity? Once Deadspin exposed their ruse, their Plan B seemed to pin the blame on Ronaiah. He accepted the blame by claiming he was voice behind ‘Lennay’. But when the public interpreted that to mean Te’o is gay, the next day this Tino gal claims that she was the actual voice behind Lennay. All too convenient?

  31. kmprocol says: Jan 25, 2013 4:00 PM

    Let me see if I’ve got this right:
    1. Tuiasosopo has admitted to multiple sources (the woman interviewed on camera last wk by ESPN, the woman Diane O’Meara whose photo he ripped off and used as the face of “Lennay”, and the 2 California cousins who say their cousin was duped into an online romance with “Lennay Kekua” years ago) that he duped Te’o and that Te’o had nothing to do with it;
    2.Tuiasospo’s lawyer admitted that he impersonated “Lennay” in an attempt to have some kind of meaningful relationship with Te’o.
    3 Burke, who wrote the Deadspin story, admits that for years, it’s been Tuiasosopo’s “thing” to pull Lennay Kekua online and telephone romance scams on unsuspecting victims.
    3 Te’o’s phone records confirm more than 1000 phone calls to and from “Lennay”‘s phone number from May thru September, with several hundred lasting over 60 minutes, all conisistent with Te’o statement that he was on the phone with her almost constantly in those months when she allegedly was hospitalized and ill with cancer.
    4. Te’o’s Mormon bishop in South Bend confirms that on visits to Te’o in those months, Te’o put him on the phone with “Lennay” many times, and that the woman seemed quite real.

    With all this proof that this sick Catfish hoax was all Tuiasosopo’s, you have the nerve to suggest that maybe Tuiasosopo is going to take the rap for Te’o? Gimme a break! Nothing short of Te’o’s head on a platter will satisfy you. Why can’t you just accept the fact that this was a socially immature 21 yr Hawaiian/Samoan/Mormon kid at a Catholic university 5,000 miles from home, who fell for a scam that shrewdly and cruelly played on his vulnerabilities to lure him into a relationship with a seemingly caring, religious Polynesian woman of Samoan extraction, and then when she calls him 3 months after her “death”, he was too scared and embarrassed to set the record straight.

  32. masonicmuseum says: Jan 25, 2013 4:26 PM

    Te’o too stupid to be in on it. He should not be allowed out on his own. He is getting a degree? In what, stupidity?

  33. jpirish58 says: Jan 25, 2013 4:40 PM

    Wow.. I wonder why a Teo story always gets the most comments on here?. It’s not news, no new evidence so why all the Hub Bub? Just might be hate for Notre Dame? Teo Lied & Embelished the story for a couple weeks. News breaking story isnt it? No Crime commited No $$$ made etc. Raise your hand if you have Never Lied… Ok thats that I Thought .Book it people He will be a late 1st or early 2nd rd pick. Move on .There is more to life than hating isnt there?. All this prove is there is no Middle Ground with ND. It’s Love or Hate. Go Irish……..

  34. Tim's Neighbor says: Jan 25, 2013 4:53 PM

    @hooterdawg (I giggled like a 12 yr old while typing that)

    You believe that it’s more probable that an expansive group of Samoans across the globe got together well before the season started and invented this hoax with Te’o involved on the off chance ND would go undefeated so he could maybe win the Heisman? Compared to a small group of people effing with a celebrity?

    To me, that first option isn’t really believable (then again, neither is this whole thing), let alone that a large group of people being able to keep it secret for so long.

    Again, this whole thing is crazy and the Te’o camp has done poorly, but I can’t see the world-wide hoax angle here.

  35. zapper45701 says: Jan 25, 2013 5:40 PM

    Why do I care what a football player does with his love life, even if it’s fictional? Why is this non-story still playing? If I want some fine fantasy fiction, I’ll watch Cinderella, or in this case, Cinderfella.

  36. overeazy says: Jan 25, 2013 6:07 PM

    As more and more facts have come out it has become more and more clear that he was not a part of the hoax. It is appazrent that some people are just so full of hate or they are too ignorant to understand what really happened. I think those people have far more character flaws then Manti.

  37. pettytom says: Jan 25, 2013 8:56 PM

    Can you even believe a “report” that comes out??? It seems once news comes out the very next day it is comepletely debunked and something new comes out. This is so weird and stupid.

  38. bartlettruss says: Jan 25, 2013 9:18 PM

    This Tino person lives in Samoa. If she made the calls it might explain why the voice is female, but completely calls into quest the over one thousand phone calls listed on Teo’s spreadsheet with an area code originating in Los Angeles.

  39. bartlettruss says: Jan 25, 2013 9:31 PM

    I’m not sure why so many people want to let this story drop although there certainly is a fatigue factor. The reason I don’t think the story should be dropped is because a massive hoax has been perpetrated on the American public.

    There seems to be collusion among MANY people here and the truth is not being told. This Tuiasosopo character appears to be the fall guy for everyone. Maybe he’s guilty as charged, but there is a feeling that he colluded with others including possibly Teo.

    Let’s see real phone records. Let’s get a recording of the female cousin and see if it matches the tapes then, if it does, let’s ask Teo why all these calls originated from a woman in Samoa when he has a Los Angeles area code all over his bogus spreadsheet.

  40. flyeredup says: Jan 25, 2013 11:21 PM

    Teo needs to check his vagina at the door.

  41. houndofthebaskervols says: Jan 25, 2013 11:32 PM

    Yeah right, what bullshit. Does anybody know how much time and energy it takes to keep up a hoax like this for that amount of time? Its ridiculous, he’s lying….everybody knows it.

  42. zgroovemeister says: Jan 26, 2013 1:56 AM

    This guy’s ridiculous story line is changing faster than a chameleon in a kaleidoscope. Just come out already!

  43. hooterdawg says: Jan 26, 2013 1:02 PM

    For those who believe that no money was made by the Te’o hoax, it was announced that Couric’s ratings tripled during his two Te’o interviews. The media has avoided mentioning how much money was made by Te’o for both his ESPN and ABC interviews. Though many of us think Te’o was an idiot for being so gullible, it may turn out he was just dumb like a fox.

  44. hooterdawg says: Jan 26, 2013 1:23 PM

    @Tim’s Neighbor: It wasn’t a ‘world-wide’ conspiracy – just a few individuals who just all happen to be Samoan. No one really knows yet the details behind this hoax, but it seems doubtful to me that the extended Samoan family would be ‘effing’ with their own with no apparent motive. If Te’o was really being effed over by his own relatives, I would have expected some harsh words said about this by Te’o’s parents. I personally do not believe that Te’o was kept in the dark about this for as long as he claims. Perhaps Dr. Phil will enlighten us.

  45. jgater1981 says: Jan 26, 2013 4:30 PM

    Man, he such LIER! so dumb all for Heesman! Why Tao make up hoax he so dumb in on it!? He ain’t no girlfriend and made it up!

  46. jgater1981 says: Jan 26, 2013 4:32 PM

    Am I doing it right? It’s hard to find the voice of an Internet troll.

  47. cupete says: Jan 27, 2013 9:16 AM

    Why is it that everyone posting comments against Manti have names like “skeeter” or “dawg” or “inbred”?

  48. hooterdawg says: Jan 27, 2013 12:05 PM

    Awww…does ‘cutepete’ want to get Te’o’s attention?

  49. bamafan36 says: Jan 29, 2013 3:51 PM

    He lied! He lied before going to New York…..which, by the way, made the University MILLIONS! That is why this story is news-worthy.

    Brian Kelly is a murderer, covers up for two rapists, and now plants a story to get a below average line backer in the Heisman hunt? Sounds about right to me. I love the quote from the guy that said “show us your proof that he did this.” And in the same paragraph, names Ray Lewis and his crime (charges were dropped). I believe he was involved, too. Just like I believe Neutered Dame, Brian Kelly, and Manti Te’o were the ones who orchestrated this entire story. I wonder if his grand mother is actually dead. Brian should check that story out……

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