Te'o issues statement on girlfriend hoax

University says 'girlfriend' used fake name, conspired to dupe the Te'o family with leukemia death

Published  12:35 PM HST Jan 16, 2013
HONOLULU -

Notre Dame football star Manti Te'o issued a statement Wednesday about the hoax involving his girlfriend.

ESPN reported that Te'o said, "This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online.  We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her."

The statement went on to say, "To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating.  It further pains me that the grief I felt and the sympathies expressed to me at the time of my grandmother's death in September were in any way deepened by what I believed to be another significant loss in my life."

The statement ended by saying, "In retrospect, I obviously should have been much more cautious. If anything good comes of this, I hope it is that others will be far more guarded when they engage with people online than I was. Fortunately, I have many wonderful things in my life, and I'm looking forward to putting this painful experience behind me as I focus on preparing for the NFL Draft."

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick says his faith has not been shaken in Te'o "one iota."

Swarbrick says an investigation by a firm the school hired has convinced him that Te'o was duped into an online relationship with a woman whose death was then faked by the perpetrators of the hoax.

Notre Dame coaches were informed by Manti Te'o and his parents that the linebacker was a victim of what appears to be a hoax, according to a statement released by the University of Notre Dame Wednesday.

The statement said someone using the fictitious name Lennay Kekua apparently ingratiated herself with Te'o and conspired with others to lead the star football player to believe she had tragically died of leukemia.  Te'o said her death inspired him to play better as he helped the Fighting Irish to get to the BCS title game.

The university was told about the hoax on Dec. 26, 2012.

Notre Dame initiated an investigation to assist Te'o and his family in discovering a motive for the hoax.

"While the proper authorities will continue to investigate this troubling matter, this appears to be, at a minimum, a sad and very cruel deception to entertain its perpetrators," reads the statement from the University of Notre Dame.

Deadspin.com uncovered that the woman that the media called Te'o's girlfriend did not exist and was a hoax.

KITV4 News will have more on this story tonight in our 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts.

Do you want to print this page now?