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Dr. Phil: Manti Te'o was victim of girlfriend hoax

  • In this Jan. 24, 2013, photo provided by CBS Television Distribution/Peteski Productions, talk show host Dr. Phil McGraw, left, interviews Ronaiah Tuiasosopo during taping for the "Dr. Phil Show" in Los Angeles. The program, scheduled to air Thursday, Jan. 31, and Friday, Feb. 1, will show the first on-air interview of Tuiasosopo, the man who allegedly concocted the girlfriend hoax that ensnared Notre Dame football star Manti Te'o. (AP Photo/CBS Television Distribution/Peteski Productions)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Dr. Phil McGraw says Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, who masterminded the dead girlfriend hoax involving Manti Te'o, told him the Notre Dame linebacker was not involved in the scheme and that he ended up falling "deeply, romantically" in love with the football player.

McGraw spoke on the "Today" show Wednesday, previewing an interview he did with Tuiasosopo, a 22-year-old California man who created the fictional woman Te'o knew as Lennay Kekua. Tuiasosopo's interview with McGraw will air in two parts on the "Dr. Phil Show" starting Thursday.

Since the hoax was revealed earlier this month, Te'o has said the relationship with Kekua started online and eventually became serious, even though the two only talked on the phone and exchanged electronic messages, never meeting in person. Te'o said he was told of Kekua's "death" from leukemia just hours after his grandmother died in September.

McGraw said Tuiasosopo told him the voice of Kekua was his. Tuiasosopo and Te'o have each said that while the Kekua relationship went on for several years, there were times when they weren't in contact.

"There were 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 in Lennay's life, in this case in my life," Tuiasosopo said.


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