The Manti Te’o fake girlfriend saga just got a little too real.
Earlier today, we learned that Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the apparent mastermind behind the hoax, allegedly posed as a woman named Lennay Kekua on the phone, using a high falsetto voice to fool the Notre Dame linebacker.
Now Te’o has handed three eerie voicemails from his “girlfriend” to Katie Couric—and we can finally hear the feminine voice on the other line.
In the first message, Lennay reassures Te’o that she loves him, on the first day of her chemo treatment. “Hi honey, just letting you know I got here and I’m getting ready for my first session,” she says, sounding upbeat. “I just wanted to call you and keep you posted.” (Kekua, the story went, died of leukemia; she was diagnosed with the disease after a nasty car accident.)
The second message reveals that it wasn’t always smooth sailing in their fake relationship, as Lennay accuses Te’o of being with another girl. “I don’t know who answers your phone!” she sobs. “And I don’t care. This is my last time trying … Take care.”
But she perks up again in the third message, updating Te’o on the status of her cancer treatment as she leaves the hospital. “Baby, I’m just calling to say good night. I know you’re probably doing homework or you’re with the boys … but I do want to say I love you and good night. And I’ll be OK tonight, I’ll do my best. So get your rest and I’ll talk to you tomorrow. I love you so much, hon. Sweet dreams.”
Te’o’s phone records reveal dozens of calls, some hours long, to a number Te’o says he thought was Lennay’s. Te’o has said he had no idea he was speaking to Tuiasosopo the whole time. That high falsetto is frighteningly convincing, which raises the question: could a man really have pulled it off? And why did Te’o perpetuate the tale of the fake girlfriend in an interview with the Associated Press four days after both he and the university discovered it was all a hoax? Was it just so he could avoid any scandal before the big game?
And if it was all a hoax, can we really chalk up Tuiasosopo’s motive—in the words of his lawyer—as an attempt to establish “a communication with someone”? The questions just keep coming.