Wait, what?! In another ridiculous twist in the Manti Te’o story that America can’t get enough of, it turns out that Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man widely seen as the mastermind of the hoax, also played the voice of Lennay Kekua, the Notre Dame star’s fake girlfriend.
The New York Daily News reported this morning that Tuiasosopo disguised his voice to sound like a woman’s in all the phone calls Te’o shared with his fake girlfriend. The calls — more than 1,000 of them, according to ESPN — were a central facet of Te’o’s relationship with Kekua.
Tuiasosopo’s lawyer, Milton Grimes, told the Daily News plainly: “It was Ronaiah as Lennay.”
A budding Christian singer who reportedly auditioned for the television singing competition The Voice, Tuiasosopo was the president of his high school drama club and has had voice training, according to the Daily News.
“This wasn’t a prank to make fun,” said Grimes, who represented Rodney King in his 1990s suit against the city of Los Angeles. “It was establishing a communication with someone… It was a person with a troubled existence trying to reach out and communicate and have a relationship.”
Tuiasosopo took photos belonging to a high school classmate, identified as Diane O’Meara, to portray Kekua on Twitter. O’Meara had no idea her face was being used in the hoax.
Grimes said Tuiasosopo is seeking counseling and wants to tell his story.