In the latest sit-down confessional to hit America’s talk shows, Dr. Phil McGraw says that Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man who allegedly pulled a fake dead girlfriend hoax on Notre Dame star Manti Te’o, was in love with the linebacker.
“Here we have a young man that fell deeply, romantically in love,” the psychologist said in a “Today” show interview promoting the two-part interview on “Dr. Phil” today and Friday.
Tuiasosopo, according to McGraw, said Te’o was “absolutely, unequivocally” not involved in the hoax, which grew in stature when the Fighting Irish football team used the death of the woman that Tuiasosopo created, Lennay Kekua, as a rallying point for the season. Tuiasosopo told McGraw that he had wanted to end the hoax even before he faked Kekua’s death from leukemia.
“I wanted to end it because after everything I had gone through I wanted to move on with my life,” he said in a clip from the show. “Me, Ronaiah, I had to just start living and let this go.”
Te’o never met Kekua, speaking to someone he said he believed was her only over the telephone. Tuiasosopo used a falsetto voice and used a photo of a woman without her permission. McGraw told “Today’s” Mike Taibbi that Tuiasosopo had “a number of life experiences that damaged this young man in some very serious ways.”
“I asked him straight up, ‘Was this a romantic relationship with you?’ ” McGraw said, “and he says ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘Are you then therefore gay?’ And he said, ‘When you put it that way, yes.’ And then he caught himself and said, ‘I’m confused.’ ”
Te’o hasn’t responded to snippets of the Tuiasosopo sessions — yet. But every week seems to bring another nationally-televised couch session, with Lance Armstrong talking to Oprah Winfrey and Te’o last week with Couric, that brings enormous TV ratings. At some point there has to be nothing left to say, right?
Te’o to Couric: “What would you do?”