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Wednesday, 16 January 2013 11:05

Website Dead Manti Teo girlfriend a hoax

SOUTH BEND, Ind., Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Inspiring stories about a girlfriend of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o who died of leukemia were part of a hoax, Deadspin.com reported Wednesday.

The website said the girlfriend -- Lennay Kekua -- never existed even as the national sports media wrote of how she inspired the Heisman Trophy candidate to feats of glory as the Fighting Irish completed an undefeated regular season.

Rather, Deadspin.com said accounts of how the two met at Stanford University in 2008, later became a couple and her subsequent death in September -- only days after the death of Te'o's grandmother -- were fictional.

Citing extensive interviews, the website reported the girlfriend was an online persona created by Te'o's friend Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the pastor of a Palmdale, Calif., church, and intimated the linebacker may have been in on the deception.

Te'o issued a statement Wednesday contending he was the victim of an elaborate hoax.

"To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating," he said.

"It further pains me that the grief I felt and the sympathies expressed to me at the time of my grandmother's death in September were in any way deepened by what I believed to be another significant loss in my life," he added.
Published in Sports
Thursday, 17 January 2013 07:29

Notre Dame knew of Teo hoax weeks ago

SOUTH BEND, Ind., Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Notre Dame knew for weeks the story of the death of linebacker Manti Te'o's girlfriend was a hoax but waited until after a title game to talk, the school said.

University spokesman Dennis Brown said in a statement the Heisman Trophy runner-up was the victim of "what appears to be a hoax in which someone using the fictitious name Lennay Kekua apparently ingratiated herself with Manti and then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had tragically died of leukemia."

Brown said Notre Dame learned of the apparent hoax Dec. 26, 2012, almost two weeks before Alabama beat Notre Dame 42-14 in the NCAA Bowl Championship Series Jan. 7.

Te'o, 21, released a separate statement saying he was the target of "what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies."

He said he was duped into having a long-term "emotional relationship" with an Internet impostor -- a deception he called "painful and humiliating."

"To think that I shared ... my happiness about my relationship and details that I thought to be true about her just makes me sick. I hope that people can understand how trying and confusing this whole experience has been," his statement said.

The syndicated TV show "Inside Edition" said Thursday it has identified the woman whose image was used in the hoax as Diane O'Meara, a 23-year-old marketing professional from Los Angeles, and a former classmate of a friend of Te'o.

The Deadspin sports website, which broke the story about the apparent hoax Wednesday, raised questions about whether Te'o was duped or whether he somehow perpetrated the fictitious story of having a girlfriend who died in September.

Although both Te'o and Notre Dame knew about the fraud before the BCS title game, neither corrected the record until the Deadspin article was published.

Notre Dame said it had hired a private investigator who produced a final report Jan. 4, and the university shared the findings with the Te'o family Jan. 5.

Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick told reporters Wednesday night he believed the Te'o family had planned to come clean with the hoax story next week, but Deadspin beat them to the punch.

Swarbrick said neither Notre Dame nor Te'o tried to conceal the story. But Notre Dame acknowledged Wednesday it persuaded Te'o to wait and set the record straight after the title game.

"We encouraged him to try to focus forward and focus on the game," Swarbrick said.

Swarbrick said the Notre Dame investigation found the motive for creating a fake persona to trick Te'o had simply been the fun of it.

Online "chatter" among the alleged perpetrators suggested "the joy they were taking" in fooling Te'o, Swarbrick said.

The pranksters even made sure Te'o sent white roses in her honor and told him when they would close her casket, the Chicago Tribune quoted Swarbrick as saying.

"There was a place to send flowers," Swarbrick said. "There was no detail of the hoax left undone."

He likened the ruse to the 2010 film "Catfish" in which a woman built a fake Facebook persona with another woman's photo, and then duped another person into having a romantic online relationship.

"Nothing about what I have learned has shaken my faith in Manti Te'o one iota," Swarbrick said.

At the same time, the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune said Te'o and his family were unclear about the truth because they said Te'o met Kekua during their courtship.

Te'o described her to ESPN in October 2012 as the most beautiful person he had ever met. His father told the Tribune the same month Kekua had traveled to Hawaii, Te'o's home state, "every once in a while ... so he would meet with her there."
Published in Sports
Saturday, 19 January 2013 02:31

Teo comes off as dupe in Net hoax

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o said he hoped the alleged hoaxer he says invented his Internet girlfriend learns a lesson from the embarrassing incident.

In his first interview since the bizarre story broke, Te'o told ESPN Friday he wasn't bent on revenge against the Southern California man he said was the mastermind of the hoax.

"I hope he understands what he's done," said Te'o "I don't wish an ill thing to somebody. I just hope he learns. I think embarrassment is big enough."

Te'o's public image soared as he led Notre Dame to the national college football title game, but his story took a strange twist when deadspin.com reported his girlfriend -- who he said had died of leukemia during the season -- apparently never existed.

Te'o told ESPN the girlfriend turned out to be the product of the imagination and cyber machinations of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo of Palmdale, who allegedly created Lennay Kekua's persona using such Internet tools as Twitter, digital photos and cellphones.

Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick told reporters this week Te'o and Kekua developed a close relationship without ever meeting face-to-face.

"It roped him more and more into the trap," he said.

The Los Angeles Times said romantic relationships between unwitting young people and Internet characters made up by hoaxers is not unprecedented. A recent movie called "Catfish" portrayed the phenomenon, and the cable network MTV even has a series in which online relationships are investigated to see if there are indeed real people involved.

The Times said the young woman whose photo and voice were that of the doomed Kekua was tracked down by its reporters and the syndicated television series "Inside Edition" in the South Bay area of Los Angeles County. The woman referred "Inside Edition" to an attorney and said "they will help you out."
Published in Sports
Wednesday, 23 January 2013 00:26

Teo admits lying about online girlfriend

NEW YORK, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o told Katie Couric he briefly lied to the public about his online girlfriend after he learned she was a hoax.

Te'o, 21, gave an exclusive interview to ABC's Couric about the story that surfaced last month, saying he had been tricked into believing his online girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, had died of cancer.

"You stuck to the script. And you knew that something was amiss, Manti," Couric said.

"Katie, put yourself in my situation. I, my whole world told me she died on Sept. 12. Everybody knew that. This girl, who I committed myself to, died on Sept. 12," said Te'o, who finished second in the voting for the 2012 Heisman Trophy.

Te'o's father, Brian, who joined the interview along with his wife, tearfully defended his son.

"People can speculate about what they think he is," Brian Te'o said. "I've known him 21 years of his life, And he's not a liar. He's a kid."

Diane O'Meara, the young woman whose photographs were used in the fake Twitter account of Te'o's online girlfriend said she knew nothing about the creation of Lennay Kekua.

"I've never met Manti Te'o in my entire life," she said on NBC's "Today" show Tuesday. "I've never spoken with him. I've never exchanged words with him."

She said she had received an apology from Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, 22, a former high school acquaintance who used her pictures, the day the hoax story broke on Deadspin.com.

Tuiasosopo has not publicly admitted involvement in the hoax.
Published in Sports
Wednesday, 16 January 2013 11:05

Website Dead Manti Teo girlfriend a hoax

SOUTH BEND, Ind., Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Inspiring stories about a girlfriend of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o who died of leukemia were part of a hoax, Deadspin.com reported Wednesday.

The website said the girlfriend -- Lennay Kekua -- never existed even as the national sports media wrote of how she inspired the Heisman Trophy candidate to feats of glory as the Fighting Irish completed an undefeated regular season.

Rather, Deadspin.com said accounts of how the two met at Stanford University in 2008, later became a couple and her subsequent death in September -- only days after the death of Te'o's grandmother -- were fictional.

Citing extensive interviews, the website reported the girlfriend was an online persona created by Te'o's friend Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the pastor of a Palmdale, Calif., church, and intimated the linebacker may have been in on the deception.

Te'o issued a statement Wednesday contending he was the victim of an elaborate hoax.

"To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating," he said.

"It further pains me that the grief I felt and the sympathies expressed to me at the time of my grandmother's death in September were in any way deepened by what I believed to be another significant loss in my life," he added.
Published in Sports
Thursday, 17 January 2013 07:29

Notre Dame knew of Teo hoax weeks ago

SOUTH BEND, Ind., Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Notre Dame knew for weeks the story of the death of linebacker Manti Te'o's girlfriend was a hoax but waited until after a title game to talk, the school said.

University spokesman Dennis Brown said in a statement the Heisman Trophy runner-up was the victim of "what appears to be a hoax in which someone using the fictitious name Lennay Kekua apparently ingratiated herself with Manti and then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had tragically died of leukemia."

Brown said Notre Dame learned of the apparent hoax Dec. 26, 2012, almost two weeks before Alabama beat Notre Dame 42-14 in the NCAA Bowl Championship Series Jan. 7.

Te'o, 21, released a separate statement saying he was the target of "what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies."

He said he was duped into having a long-term "emotional relationship" with an Internet impostor -- a deception he called "painful and humiliating."

"To think that I shared ... my happiness about my relationship and details that I thought to be true about her just makes me sick. I hope that people can understand how trying and confusing this whole experience has been," his statement said.

The syndicated TV show "Inside Edition" said Thursday it has identified the woman whose image was used in the hoax as Diane O'Meara, a 23-year-old marketing professional from Los Angeles, and a former classmate of a friend of Te'o.

The Deadspin sports website, which broke the story about the apparent hoax Wednesday, raised questions about whether Te'o was duped or whether he somehow perpetrated the fictitious story of having a girlfriend who died in September.

Although both Te'o and Notre Dame knew about the fraud before the BCS title game, neither corrected the record until the Deadspin article was published.

Notre Dame said it had hired a private investigator who produced a final report Jan. 4, and the university shared the findings with the Te'o family Jan. 5.

Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick told reporters Wednesday night he believed the Te'o family had planned to come clean with the hoax story next week, but Deadspin beat them to the punch.

Swarbrick said neither Notre Dame nor Te'o tried to conceal the story. But Notre Dame acknowledged Wednesday it persuaded Te'o to wait and set the record straight after the title game.

"We encouraged him to try to focus forward and focus on the game," Swarbrick said.

Swarbrick said the Notre Dame investigation found the motive for creating a fake persona to trick Te'o had simply been the fun of it.

Online "chatter" among the alleged perpetrators suggested "the joy they were taking" in fooling Te'o, Swarbrick said.

The pranksters even made sure Te'o sent white roses in her honor and told him when they would close her casket, the Chicago Tribune quoted Swarbrick as saying.

"There was a place to send flowers," Swarbrick said. "There was no detail of the hoax left undone."

He likened the ruse to the 2010 film "Catfish" in which a woman built a fake Facebook persona with another woman's photo, and then duped another person into having a romantic online relationship.

"Nothing about what I have learned has shaken my faith in Manti Te'o one iota," Swarbrick said.

At the same time, the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune said Te'o and his family were unclear about the truth because they said Te'o met Kekua during their courtship.

Te'o described her to ESPN in October 2012 as the most beautiful person he had ever met. His father told the Tribune the same month Kekua had traveled to Hawaii, Te'o's home state, "every once in a while ... so he would meet with her there."
Published in Sports
Saturday, 19 January 2013 02:31

Teo comes off as dupe in Net hoax

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o said he hoped the alleged hoaxer he says invented his Internet girlfriend learns a lesson from the embarrassing incident.

In his first interview since the bizarre story broke, Te'o told ESPN Friday he wasn't bent on revenge against the Southern California man he said was the mastermind of the hoax.

"I hope he understands what he's done," said Te'o "I don't wish an ill thing to somebody. I just hope he learns. I think embarrassment is big enough."

Te'o's public image soared as he led Notre Dame to the national college football title game, but his story took a strange twist when deadspin.com reported his girlfriend -- who he said had died of leukemia during the season -- apparently never existed.

Te'o told ESPN the girlfriend turned out to be the product of the imagination and cyber machinations of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo of Palmdale, who allegedly created Lennay Kekua's persona using such Internet tools as Twitter, digital photos and cellphones.

Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick told reporters this week Te'o and Kekua developed a close relationship without ever meeting face-to-face.

"It roped him more and more into the trap," he said.

The Los Angeles Times said romantic relationships between unwitting young people and Internet characters made up by hoaxers is not unprecedented. A recent movie called "Catfish" portrayed the phenomenon, and the cable network MTV even has a series in which online relationships are investigated to see if there are indeed real people involved.

The Times said the young woman whose photo and voice were that of the doomed Kekua was tracked down by its reporters and the syndicated television series "Inside Edition" in the South Bay area of Los Angeles County. The woman referred "Inside Edition" to an attorney and said "they will help you out."
Published in Sports
Wednesday, 23 January 2013 00:26

Teo admits lying about online girlfriend

NEW YORK, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o told Katie Couric he briefly lied to the public about his online girlfriend after he learned she was a hoax.

Te'o, 21, gave an exclusive interview to ABC's Couric about the story that surfaced last month, saying he had been tricked into believing his online girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, had died of cancer.

"You stuck to the script. And you knew that something was amiss, Manti," Couric said.

"Katie, put yourself in my situation. I, my whole world told me she died on Sept. 12. Everybody knew that. This girl, who I committed myself to, died on Sept. 12," said Te'o, who finished second in the voting for the 2012 Heisman Trophy.

Te'o's father, Brian, who joined the interview along with his wife, tearfully defended his son.

"People can speculate about what they think he is," Brian Te'o said. "I've known him 21 years of his life, And he's not a liar. He's a kid."

Diane O'Meara, the young woman whose photographs were used in the fake Twitter account of Te'o's online girlfriend said she knew nothing about the creation of Lennay Kekua.

"I've never met Manti Te'o in my entire life," she said on NBC's "Today" show Tuesday. "I've never spoken with him. I've never exchanged words with him."

She said she had received an apology from Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, 22, a former high school acquaintance who used her pictures, the day the hoax story broke on Deadspin.com.

Tuiasosopo has not publicly admitted involvement in the hoax.
Published in Sports
Wednesday, 16 January 2013 11:05

Website Dead Manti Teo girlfriend a hoax

SOUTH BEND, Ind., Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Inspiring stories about a girlfriend of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o who died of leukemia were part of a hoax, Deadspin.com reported Wednesday.

The website said the girlfriend -- Lennay Kekua -- never existed even as the national sports media wrote of how she inspired the Heisman Trophy candidate to feats of glory as the Fighting Irish completed an undefeated regular season.

Rather, Deadspin.com said accounts of how the two met at Stanford University in 2008, later became a couple and her subsequent death in September -- only days after the death of Te'o's grandmother -- were fictional.

Citing extensive interviews, the website reported the girlfriend was an online persona created by Te'o's friend Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the pastor of a Palmdale, Calif., church, and intimated the linebacker may have been in on the deception.

Te'o issued a statement Wednesday contending he was the victim of an elaborate hoax.

"To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating," he said.

"It further pains me that the grief I felt and the sympathies expressed to me at the time of my grandmother's death in September were in any way deepened by what I believed to be another significant loss in my life," he added.
Published in Sports
Thursday, 17 January 2013 07:29

Notre Dame knew of Teo hoax weeks ago

SOUTH BEND, Ind., Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Notre Dame knew for weeks the story of the death of linebacker Manti Te'o's girlfriend was a hoax but waited until after a title game to talk, the school said.

University spokesman Dennis Brown said in a statement the Heisman Trophy runner-up was the victim of "what appears to be a hoax in which someone using the fictitious name Lennay Kekua apparently ingratiated herself with Manti and then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had tragically died of leukemia."

Brown said Notre Dame learned of the apparent hoax Dec. 26, 2012, almost two weeks before Alabama beat Notre Dame 42-14 in the NCAA Bowl Championship Series Jan. 7.

Te'o, 21, released a separate statement saying he was the target of "what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies."

He said he was duped into having a long-term "emotional relationship" with an Internet impostor -- a deception he called "painful and humiliating."

"To think that I shared ... my happiness about my relationship and details that I thought to be true about her just makes me sick. I hope that people can understand how trying and confusing this whole experience has been," his statement said.

The syndicated TV show "Inside Edition" said Thursday it has identified the woman whose image was used in the hoax as Diane O'Meara, a 23-year-old marketing professional from Los Angeles, and a former classmate of a friend of Te'o.

The Deadspin sports website, which broke the story about the apparent hoax Wednesday, raised questions about whether Te'o was duped or whether he somehow perpetrated the fictitious story of having a girlfriend who died in September.

Although both Te'o and Notre Dame knew about the fraud before the BCS title game, neither corrected the record until the Deadspin article was published.

Notre Dame said it had hired a private investigator who produced a final report Jan. 4, and the university shared the findings with the Te'o family Jan. 5.

Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick told reporters Wednesday night he believed the Te'o family had planned to come clean with the hoax story next week, but Deadspin beat them to the punch.

Swarbrick said neither Notre Dame nor Te'o tried to conceal the story. But Notre Dame acknowledged Wednesday it persuaded Te'o to wait and set the record straight after the title game.

"We encouraged him to try to focus forward and focus on the game," Swarbrick said.

Swarbrick said the Notre Dame investigation found the motive for creating a fake persona to trick Te'o had simply been the fun of it.

Online "chatter" among the alleged perpetrators suggested "the joy they were taking" in fooling Te'o, Swarbrick said.

The pranksters even made sure Te'o sent white roses in her honor and told him when they would close her casket, the Chicago Tribune quoted Swarbrick as saying.

"There was a place to send flowers," Swarbrick said. "There was no detail of the hoax left undone."

He likened the ruse to the 2010 film "Catfish" in which a woman built a fake Facebook persona with another woman's photo, and then duped another person into having a romantic online relationship.

"Nothing about what I have learned has shaken my faith in Manti Te'o one iota," Swarbrick said.

At the same time, the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune said Te'o and his family were unclear about the truth because they said Te'o met Kekua during their courtship.

Te'o described her to ESPN in October 2012 as the most beautiful person he had ever met. His father told the Tribune the same month Kekua had traveled to Hawaii, Te'o's home state, "every once in a while ... so he would meet with her there."
Published in Sports
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