Three forensic voice analysts all reached the same conclusion, "Dr. Phil" says
Tuiasosopo says the hoax was linked to sexual abuse he endured beginning at age 12
"It has everything to do with what I went through as a child," he says on show
The voice on telephone messages left for Manti Te’o matches that of the 22-year-old man who says he posed as a woman in carrying on a relationship – by e-mail and over the phone – with the Notre Dame linebacker, according to the “Dr. Phil” show.
“They all say, with scientific certainty, that Ronaiah Tuiasosopo is the female voice in those recordings,” host Phil McGraw said, citing conclusions by forensic voice analysts with three independent contractors.
That conclusion supports Tuiasosopo’s assertion that, posing as a woman, he was involved in a relationship with Te’o, who had not known that his love interest was a man.
Te’o rose to prominence while leading Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish to an undefeated regular season. This year’s Heisman Trophy runner-up, he told interviewers in September and October that his grandmother and girlfriend, whom he described as a 22-year-old Stanford University student, had died within hours of each other.
The sports website Deadspin broke the story last month that the girlfriend Te’o talked about wasn’t real.
McGraw reported in the first part of the two-part interview, which aired Thursday, that the voice analysts had concluded that the voice used by Tuiasosopo in the interview was likely not that of the person who had left the voice mail messages on the gridiron star’s answering machine.
McGraw asked the confessed hoaxer repeatedly to adopt the female voice he said he had used with Te’o in order to prove that it was he, but Tuiasosopo refused, saying he was not comfortable appearing on camera sounding like a woman.
A first attempt at overcoming his objection – putting Tuiasosopo behind a screen in McGraw’s home, where the interview took place – resulted in equivocal findings from the voice analysts.
But when the venue was switched to Tuiasosopo’s house, where he said he had made the calls to Te’o, the results were uniformly in agreement, McGraw said.
Tuiasosopo told McGraw that the ruse had its roots in sexual abuse he endured from someone close to his family that began when he was 12 years of age.
“It started off with a hand and then touching and stuff like that,” he told the talk show host in the segment that aired Friday. “I didn’t know what was going on.”
Tuiasosopo said he kept to himself knowledge of the abuse, which escalated to rape, out of fear that his parents would become angry if they were to find out and that it might drive his father – who was already out of town much of the time – to leave.
“I knew that I could not go forward with that,” he said.
Tuiasosopo said he went on to create an alter persona – the fictional Lennay Kekua.
“I felt that I couldn’t do things, accomplish things, pursue things, live out as Ronaiah,” Tuiasosopo said to McGraw. “And I felt the need to create this. It has everything to do with what I went through as a child and my experience with child molestation and abuse.”
Asked why he had not created a fictional man instead, he said that it was because he had been “abused as if I was a girl.”
In the initial segment, which aired Thursday, Tuiasosopo said the athlete knew nothing about the ruse.
“He had no idea,” said 22-year-old Ronaiah Tuiasosopo in the first segment of a two-part interview that aired Thursday on “Dr. Phil.” The second part is scheduled to air Friday. “He did not know anything.”
Te’o has said he was not a part of the hoax.
Asked if he was in love with Te’o, Tuiasosopo told host Phil McGraw:
Asked whether he is gay, he said, “I would say, yeah, I am gay, but honestly, I am so confused, I’m so lost.”
In the interview, Tuiasosopo said the relationship began after he started a Facebook page under the name Lennay Kekua, the first name an elision of his mother’s and grandmother’s first names and the last name one he had heard “thrown around in the neighborhood.”
He said he “randomly added different people” as Facebook friends with the persona he had created. “One of the people I happened to add was his cousin,” he said, referring to Te’o’s cousin. “Shortly after, I got a friend request, and it was from Manti.”
But that did not stop him; the relationship grew. They began speaking nightly, and Te’o seemed to have been smitten, too, Tuiasosopo said. “He really had fallen in love with this, we’ll say, character.”
A love story unravels
Tuiasosopo said his motives were pure; he never tried to make money off their relationship. “I just wanted to help him become better,” he said.
The charade became difficult to maintain, and he tried to end it several times.
“There are many times where Manti and Lennay had broken up. But something would bring them back together, whether it was something going on in his life or Lennay’s life, in this case in my life,” Tuiasosopo said.
He added: “I wanted to end it because after everything I had gone through I wanted to move on with my life. Me, Ronaiah, I had to just start living and let this go.”
Finally, after learning that Te’o had Skyped with four women – including two of his former girlfriends – Tuiasosopo said he essentially killed off Lennay, having her die of leukemia.
“I was just trying to do everything to end it because I knew that, no matter what, you know, it just wasn’t right – and it was never going to be.”
In Friday’s segment, Tuiasosopo apologized to all those he hurt, including Te’o, Teo’s family and his own family. “I can’t express how sorry I am,” he said. “The truth is I hurt every day for the decisions I have made.”
CNN’s Chelsea J. Carter contributed to this report.