A seemingly remorseful and guilt-ridden Ronaiah Tuiasosopo -- the man admittedly behind the Manti Te'o hoax -- opened up to Dr. Phil McGraw about the scandal that fascinated and confused millions.
Tuiasosopo, 22, posed as Manti Te'o's online girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, for years (even faking her illness and then death). In part two of their interview, a tearful Tuiasosopo told Dr. Phil, "I can't express how sorry I am. People say, 'Well, does he even have any feeling towards this?' The truth is I hurt every day for the decisions I've made."
With Dr. Phil listening, Tuiasosopo went behind a curtain to perform the voice he used as Kekua for all those years. He re-enacted a standard message that he might have left on Te'o's voicemail while they were together. The curtain was used to provide Tuiasosopo with a sense of privacy so he could get into character. The voice and performance are shockingly believable to the naked ear, but McGraw delved deeper to see if it was, in fact, Tuiasosopo making the calls.
A “Dr. Phil” producer went to Tuiasosopo’s home to serve as a witness, while Tuiasosopo recorded his “Kekua” voice on a clean phone. These samples (not that of the studio) were sent to three laboratories to compare Tuiasosopo’s recordings to that of voicemails left for Te’o by Kekua.
All the laboratories reported that Tuiasosopo's false voice matched Kekua's. (His normal speaking voice did not.) One lab reported that Tuiasosopo was "a true talent," presenting vocal skills they’d not seen before.
During the interview, Tuiasosopo apologized to Manti Te'o's family, the Notre Dame football program, and his own family. Te'o was Notre Dame's star football player and the runner-up to win the Heisman Trophy in 2012.
In part one of the interview, McGraw said on NBC's "Today" show, he asked Tuiasosopo if he had viewed his relationship with Te'o as a romantic one, and Tuiasosopo had said yes. In part two, Tuiasosopo admitted to having been molested by a family friend, a church pastor, as a child.
Dr. Phil spoke to his parents, Titus and Cheannie Tuiasosopo, about this confession and about their son's earlier confession that he questions his sexuality and might be gay. "He is still my son, and we love him unconditionally," his father said.
- Arts & Entertainment