Manti Te'o girlfriend voice at issue

Updated: January 26, 2013, 9:23 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Hollywood couldn't make this up. One day after a report that the voice of Manti Te'o's fake girlfriend belonged to the man who masterminded the hoax, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, another voice has emerged -- that of his female cousin.

Relatives of Tino Tuiasosopo, a woman in her mid-20s who lives in Pago Pago, American Samoa, told the New York Post that Te'o has been speaking to her.

"Tino is the girl that Manti has been talking to all these months," said a Tuiasosopo cousin, according to the Post.

In an interview with ESPN's Jeremy Schaap on Friday, Te'o said that he had discovered that a cast of characters portrayed Lennay Kekua, the fake girlfriend who had supposedly been in a serious car accident and then died of leukemia.

When asked who he had been speaking to all that time, Te'o said: "Two guys and a girl are responsible for the whole thing."

He was asked if he knew who they were and he said: "I don't know. I don't know. According to Ronaiah, Ronaiah's one."

According to Ronaiah Tuiasosopo's relatives, another is Tino Tuiasosopo, who works for her father's construction company.

A source told the newspaper that she became the voice of Te'o's girlfriend after another long-distance relationship that had "extraordinary similarities" to the Te'o saga ended in late 2011. Te'o says his relationship with Kekua began in 2009, however, making it very possible others portrayed Kekua.

Tino Tuiasosopo's relatives are certain that at least on voice mails Te'o supplied for his appearance on Katie Couric's television show this week, Tino's voice can be heard.

A person identified as Tino Tuiasosopo's cousin said: "There is no doubt whatsoever that it's Tino."

After listening to the tape of "Kekua" hysterically accusing Te'o of having another girl in his room, one of the Post's sources said: "That's the way [Tino] cries when she's feeling sorry for herself. Its her, that's the voice."

Although the quality of the recording is not very good on all of the clips, the voice does sound feminine.

"It didn't sound like a man," Te'o told Couric during the interview that aired Thursday. "It sounded like a woman. It's incredible that he can make that noise."

Others didn't think it sounded like a man either. "Good Morning America" sent the tapes to four audio experts, who were unanimous in saying that the voice on the tapes was that of a woman.

A Tuiasosopo relative thinks that Ronaiah Tuiasosopo's lawyer, Milton Grimes, told the New York Daily News that his client has been the voice all this time because his client "is determined to take the rap," according to the Post.

Grimes had been clear, however, on Thursday. He said that Te'o "thought it was a female he was talking with. It was Ronaiah as Lennay."

Tuiasosopo, 22, has had dramatic training, plays in a Christian band and even auditioned last year for the television show "The Voice."

"Come on, Hollywood does it all the time," Grimes said of his client pretending to be a woman. "People can do that."

No matter the voice, Te'o did spend hours on the phone with somebody. A source close to Te'o gave ESPN's Schaap documents that the source says are Te'o's AT&T phone records from May 11 to Sept. 12, the date Kekua supposedly died of leukemia. The logs are not originals, but rather spreadsheets sent via emails, and could not be independently verified.

The records show that in the four-month span -- when Te'o has said he believed Kekua to be in a Los Angeles hospital recovering from an accident and being treated for cancer -- Te'o made and received more than 1,000 calls totaling more than 500 hours in length from the same number in the 661 area code. The 661 area code covers Lancaster, Calif., which is part of Los Angeles County. The source told Schaap that Te'o believed the 661 phone number in question was Kekua's.

Of these calls, 110 were more than 60 minutes in length, including several that were several hundred minutes long. In an ESPN interview last Friday, and in interviews with both ESPN and Sports Illustrated last fall, Te'o said he was on the phone "every single night" with a person he believed to be Kekua, often for long stretches late at night.

Last Friday, he said to Schaap in an off-camera interview: "I'd be on the phone. And she had complications from the accident and she said the only thing that could help her sleep was if I was on the phone. So I would be on the phone, and I'd have the phone on the whole night."

From the records, it does not appear that Te'o was on the phone every night for the entire night, but the volume of calls and their duration are sizable.


Information from ESPN's Jeremy Schaap and The Associated Press was used in this report.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

ALSO SEE