Te’o thought he was having a meaningful relationship with Lennay Kekua, who he met on the internet, and was devastated when he discovered she’d died of cancer.
Milton Grimes, lawyer to Tuiasosopo, said his client pretended to be a woman with Te’o and hadn’t spoken publicity due to a new law which makes it a crime to create a false identity online.
“[Te’o] thought it was a female he was talking with,” Grimes is quoted by the Daily News. “It was Ronaiah as Lennay.”
“This wasn’t a prank to make fun. It was establishing a communication with someone. It was a person with a troubled existence trying to reach out and communicate and have a relationship.”
“He didn’t mean for anyone to be hurt. Anything that he has done, he has apologised to those he could apologise to.”
Meanwhile, Te’o has been interviewed on US TV and admitted he lied for a short time after finding out his girlfriend wasn’t real.
Despite not meeting face to face, he was devastated when she died of leukemia on September 12. But on December 6 he found it to not be true.
He told ABC TV he felt he didn’t have a choice but to continue the lie.
Two days later he told an interviewer that he’d “lost both my grandparents and my girlfriend to cancer.” In a New York Post interview he said the memories of his grandfather helped him to get through the loss of his grandmother and girlfriend, who he said died on the same day.
“Put yourself in my situation,” he said to Katie Couric. “I, my whole world told me that she died on September 12. Everybody knew that. This girl, who I committed myself to, died on September 12.”
“What I went through was real. You know, the feelings, the pain, the sorrow — that was all real, and that’s something that I can’t fake.”
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