Ronaiah Tuiasosopo

*Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man who has been publicly identified as being behind the Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax, called a church friend in early December crying and admitted to duping the Heisman finalist, the friend told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” Thursday.

The friend, a woman in her mid-20s, agreed to be interviewed under the condition that she not be identified, saying she was fearful for her family’s safety because of the overwhelming publicity the story has generated. In the interview, she did allow for her voice to be recorded.

She said Tuiasosopo gave her the tearful confession and account of how he played what he said was at first a game on the unsuspecting Te’o. And, she said, he told her that it wasn’t the first time he had done it.

“He (Ronaiah) told me that Manti was not involved at all, he was a victim. … The girlfriend was a lie, the accident was a lie, the leukemia was a lie,” said the woman. “He was crying, he was literally crying, he’s like ‘I know, I know what I have to do.’

“It’s not only Manti, but he was telling me that it’s a lot of other people they had done this to.”

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o answers a question during NCAA college football media day, Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012 in South Bend, Ind.

Notre Dame issued a news release Wednesday after Deadspin.com reported it could find no record of Lennay Kekua, Te’o’s supposed girlfriend, existing.

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said in a news conference Wednesday night that coaches were informed by Te’o and his parents on Dec. 26 that Te’o had been the victim of what appeared to be a hoax. Someone using a fictitious name “apparently ingratiated herself” with Te’o, the school said, then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had died of leukemia.

Swarbrick said that the relationship took place online and over the phone. Te’o had described staying on the phone with whom he thought was Kekua for hours each night over many months. Tuiasosopo’s friend from church told ESPN that Tuiasosopo admitted to having his female cousin speak to Te’o over the phone.

Meanwhile, on Friday, an adviser to Te’o told ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap that the linebacker has been huddling Friday morning with family members and a team of advisers, who are trying to determine the best way for him to address the controversy. The adviser, who’s been part of the discussions, also said that all of the advisers are thoroughly convinced that Te’o is telling the truth in saying that he was a victim of a hoax.

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