Exclusive: The Man behind the Manti Te’o Girlfriend Hoax Comes Clean

February 1, 2013
Dr. Phil recently sat down with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man behind the Manti Te'o love hoax. Ronaiah revealed how he created Lennay, a Polynesian beauty, as an intricate deception to lure the Notre Dame football hero into a relationship. Despite never meeting in person, Manti and the fictitious Lennay’s relationship grew deep and intimate on many levels, before Ronaiah killed off Lennay and the hoax was revealed.

Catch up on what you missed.





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Ronaiah Tuiasosopo and his parentsManti Te'oDr. Charles Sophy, Child/Adolescent and Adult Psychiatrist



In part two of this Dr. Phil exclusive, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo opens up about his involvement in the girlfriend hoax scandal involving Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o and answers the questions everyone has been asking: Why would he dupe the Heisman Trophy candidate into a fake relationship with a girl who never existed and perpetrate such an elaborate and deceptive hoax? Ronaiah makes a startling revelation about his past and shares why he says it had a major impact on his behavior. Then, hear from Ronaiah’s parents. How did they react when their son admitted he was the mastermind behind one of the biggest sports hoax scandals in years? And, where does the family go from here? Plus, learn the truth behind the voicemails left for Manti. Is the voice really Ronaiah impersonating a female, or does he have a co-conspirator? And, what message, if any, does Ronaiah have for Manti? Don't miss the conclusion to this Dr. Phil exclusive! The following program contains strong sexual content. Viewer discretion is advised.

The Reasons Behind the Hoax


Why did Ronaiah create such an elaborate and deceptive hoax? And, Ronaiah reveals a painful secret he’s been hiding for years.


A Troubled Childhood

Growing up, Ronaiah says his relationship with his father was almost non-existent. He says he was mostly raised by his grandparents, his mother and his mom's sisters, while his father, a football star and later a musician, was frequently on the road playing and battling his own demons. After years away from his family, he finally returned home, giving Ronaiah the father he had always longed for. Ronaiah's dad also returned to their church, where he became a pastor and began ministering to troubled youth. It was during this time, when Ronaiah was 12 years old, that he says he was being sexually assaulted by some of these young men.

“This kind of happened, essentially, on [your father’s] watch,” Dr. Phil says, and Ronaiah agrees. “What was your fear if you had brought this up?”

Ronaiah says he was afraid that if he told his dad, he would be angry. “From there, I thought, if I tell him that, maybe that will make him hate church,” he says. “I didn’t know the reaction I would get, but I knew that I could not go forward with that.”

Ronaiah says that the abuse continued. “I held it in, and kind of just took it, and moved on and hoped that the feeling of disgust and the feeling of filth and every feeling that came along with it — I just hoped that it would go away, but it didn’t.”

Why did Ronaiah feel the need to create an alter ego and represent himself as somebody else?

“When I looked at Lennay through Manti’s eyes, I got a glimpse of who I was.”


Ronaiah's Parents Weigh In

Ronaiah's parents join the conversation and express their thoughts on the situation.

“My first response was, ‘I love you, Son.’”


“I can’t express how sorry I am toward Manti and his family, and everyone affected by this.”

The Truth Behind the Voicemails

As the hoax continued to unfold, messages on Manti’s phone left by “Lennay” surfaced. Ronaiah’s attorney said they were Ronaiah distorting his voice to sound like a woman, and Ronaiah swore it was him. News outlets analyzed those voicemails and said Ronaiah was lying. Was this some sort of elaborate plot between Ronaiah and Manti? Was Ronaiah deceiving Manti alone or with the help of a female co-conspirator?

The Dr. Phil show sent clips of Ronaiah's interview to three of the country’s top forensic voice analysts. They compared Ronaiah's voice from his interview to messages left on Manti’s phone to determine if it was the same person. Based on that comparison, the experts said it wasn't a match. Dr. Phil confronted Ronaiah with the results, but he was adamant that it was him. After a lengthy discussion, Ronaiah finally agreed to do the voice for Dr. Phil and let the show record it. The only people in the room were Dr. Phil, Dr. Sophy, who had spent countless hours counseling Ronaiah and his family, as well as one camera operator.

Hear Ronaiah perform Lennay's voice. Do you believe he is the person on the voicemails?

Dr. Phil sent the new voice samples to his experts, once again. “Three individual labs came back with the same results. They all say, with scientific certainty, that Ronaiah Tuiasosopo is the female voice in those recordings,” he says.

Update

Dr. Phil checks in with Ronaiah during his 2000th show. How is he now?