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Manti Te'o says he wasn't involved in girlfriend hoax

UPI News Service, 01/24/2013 

Manti Te'o told a U.S. TV interviewer he wasn't "forthcoming" about a hoax involving a phony online girlfriend, but denied lying about it.

In an interview that aired Thursday, the Notre Dame linebacker, 21, told Katie Couric he had been tricked into believing his online girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, had died of cancer in September.

Asked whether he had "any involvement in creating the scam," Te'o replied, "No, I did not."

"I think what people don't realize is the same day everybody else found out about this situation, I found out," he said. "I got the call on Dec. 6, saying that she was alive and from Dec. 6 to Jan. 16, my whole reality was that she was dead. Now all of a sudden she was alive. At that time, I didn't know it was just somebody's prank."

Te'o admitted he misled the media about how he met Kekua and said, "For people feeling that they were misled, that I'm sorry for."

"I wasn't as forthcoming about it, but I didn't lie," he said. "I never was asked did I meet her in person. Through the embarrassment and the fear of what people would think about me being committed to this person I didn't have a chance to meet and she all of a sudden died, that scared me. And to avoid any further conversation, I wasn't as forthcoming as I should have been."

Te'o said he "basked in" knowing he "people turned to me for inspiration."

"My story I felt was a guy in times of hardship and times of trial really held strong to his faith ... and family. I thought that was my story," he said.

"What I went through was real," Te'o said. "The feelings, the pain, the sorrow -- that was all real. That was something I can't fake."

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