Te'o Spent Hours on Phone With Guy Playing His 'Girlfriend'

Ronaiah Tuiasosopo's lawyer says he affected a female voice

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 24, 2013 10:48 AM CST

(Newser) – You probably didn't think this was possible, but the Manti Te'o story just got even weirder. A source close to Te'o has given ESPN phone records that appear to indicate that Te'o did indeed spend hours on the phone with someone he thought was Lennay Kekua—more than 500 hours, in fact, spread across more than 1,000 calls. So who was it portraying Kekua in those soul-baring phone calls? Well, according to his lawyer, it was the decidedly male Ronaiah Tuiasosopo himself.

"It was Ronaiah as Lennay," lawyer Milton Grimes tells the New York Daily News, but Te'o "thought it was a female." Tuiasosopo has had vocal and dramatic training, even once auditioning for The Voice. Grimes insists there was nothing sinister about the act. "Come on, Hollywood does it all the time," he said. "People can do that." He says Tuiasosopo wasn't trying to mock or harm Te'o. "It was a person with a troubled existence trying to reach out and communicate and have a relationship.”

Diane O' Meara appears on NBC News' Today show, Jan. 23, 2013 in New York.
Diane O' Meara appears on NBC News' "Today" show, Jan. 23, 2013 in New York.   (AP Photo/NBC, Peter Kramer)
In this Jan. 5, 2013, file photo, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o answers a question during media day for the BCS national championship NCAA college football game in Miami.
In this Jan. 5, 2013, file photo, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o answers a question during media day for the BCS national championship NCAA college football game in Miami.   (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
In a photo provided by ESPN, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o pauses during an interview with ESPN on Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, in Bradenton, Fla.
In a photo provided by ESPN, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o pauses during an interview with ESPN on Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, in Bradenton, Fla.   (AP Photo/ESPN Images, Ryan Jones)
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