Diane O'Meara, woman in fake Manti Te'o girlfriend photo, speaks out
NEW YORK The woman whose photo was used as the "face" of the Twitter account of Manti Te'o's supposed girlfriend says the man allegedly behind the hoax confessed and apologized to her.
Diane O'Meara told NBC's "Today" show Tuesday that Ronaiah Tuiasosopo used pictures of her without her knowledge in creating a fake woman called Lennay Kekua. Te'o asserts he was tricked into an online romance with Kekua and, until last week, believed she died of leukemia in September.
O'Meara went to high school in California with Tuiasosopo, but she says they're not close. He called to apologize Jan. 16, the day Deadspin.com broke the hoax story, she said.
"I don't think there's anything he could say to me that would fix this," said O'Meara, a 23-year-old marketing executive in Los Angeles.
O'Meara said she had never had any contact with Te'o, and that for five years, Tuiasosopo "has literally been stalking my Facebook and stealing my photos."
Tuiasosopo has not spoken publicly since the news broke. His family has said they may speak out this week.
Peter Navy Tuiasosopo, uncle of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, says the family plans to hold a meeting this week to determine when and how his nephew would talk about the bizarre prank.
"We want to do it right," he said, also noting that the family has hired an attorney. He never directly mentioned the hoax or his nephew being involved.
Te'o insisted he had no role in the hoax involving his "dead" girlfriend and told ESPN on Friday night that he was duped by a person who has since apologized to him.
In an off-camera interview, Te'o identified that person as Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, a 22-year-old acquaintance who lives in California. He said the young man contacted him soon after Deadpsin.com broke the news on Wednesday. The Deadspin story indicated Ronaiah Tuiasosopo was involved, and suggested Te'o was, too.
"We're just a family of faith. The family is holding up well," Peter Navy Tuiasosopo said. "They're holding up the way I would expect a family to. This is a storm."
He made the comments after attending a two-hour service at the Oasis Christian Church, where his brother, who is Ronaiah's father, is pastor.
Titus Tuiasosopo, the father, choked up as he thanked people for their prayers.
"I've been practicing how to say `no comment' in 20 languages," the pastor told his congregation. The family has not commented publicly since news of the hoax broke.
Ronaiah Tuiasosopo wasn't seen in attendance, and two church members said he was not there.
Earlier in the day, ABC news announced that Te'o would do his first television interview with Katie Couric. The interview will air Thursday on Couric's daytime talk show and Te'o's parents will be with him. ABC was not releasing details of when the interview would take place or where.
2013 BCS National Championship
Also, in a story published in Sunday's South Bend Tribune, a Notre Dame spokesman said the university decided against disclosing the hoax before the Irish played Alabama in the BCS championship game on Jan. 7 because it wasn't in the best interest of the teams.
University spokesman Dennis Brown said some school administrators thought they should release what they knew about the hoax when they became aware of it. Te'o went to coaches and school officials with his story on Dec. 26. The school commissioned an investigation that it says confirmed Te'o was not involved. Investigators gave their findings to the school on Jan. 4.
The university officials said the investigators did not examine cellphone records, emails or other electronic communication to determine the length or extent of Te'o's communication over the past few years with the person claiming to be Lennay Kekua, nor did the university ask Te'o to take a lie detector test.
After Armstrong confession, Te'o hoax, who can we trust?
The school informed Te'o's parents about the investigation results on Jan. 5.
Frank Bruni, op-ed columnist for the New York Times, told "CBS This Morning" that the public's love of a good tale was motivation for Te'o to perpetuate the story.
"This girlfriend was never produced. If you go back and you look at the transcripts of some of the interviews he did, now you say, 'Gee, no one asked this follow-up, that follow-up.' We loved this tale of double grief and someone valiantly performing through it. And because of that, I think we deliberately didn't ask some tough questions, that now, in retrospect, it looks like we should have."
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