The 22-year-old man who fooled Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o into falling for a fake girlfriend via email and phone messages said he was repeatedly molested as a 12-year-old child and was only creating the phony persona as an escape from what he later called rape.
Ronaiah Tuiasosopo spoke publicly for the first time Thursday, in a taped interview with with Dr. Phil McGraw, on the "Dr. Phil Show" and said, " I felt the need to create this. It has everything to do with what I went through as a child."
After Thursday's show, McGraw expressed some skepticism that Tuiasosopo was actually the voice of the girlfriend, Lennay Kekua — a virtual woman he invented and introduced to Te'o via the Internet before killing her off in December.
When Tuiasosopo didn't pass three voice tests (taped in the Dr. Phil studio for Thursday's show), evaluated by three audio technicians — which could have matched his disguised voice to the previously recorded tapes of the phony Kekua — the soft-spoken Tuiasosopo blamed it on the unfamiliar and uncomfortable setting in the television studio. So McGraw had him go to more familiar surroundings to recreate Kekua's voice— and the same place for years he made the original calls to Te'o — his California home.
Tuiasosopo needed to score a 60% chance of certainty from the trifecta of audio analysts to confirm that he could have really been the voice of the fake Kekua.
All three audio tests came back with high scores of 87.94%, 70.54% and even a perfect 100% authentication from one lab.
"They all say with scientific certainty Ronaiah Tuiasosopo is the female voice in those recordings," said McGraw when the results came back.
One of the audio specialists was actually very impressed by Tuiasosopo's vocal abilities.
"Ronaiah can manipulate his voice without using a voice manipulation box or device. It's a true talent," Forensic Audio Examiner Kent Gibson told McGraw. "I've never heard anyone do this before."
Tuiasosopo closed the final day of the emotionally-draining shows by admitting regrets for his hoax before looking at the camera and giving a heartfelt apology to Te'o:
"I couldn't express how sorry I am and know I put you through a lot ... Hurting you, your family and the death and the pain I caused. I pray you forgive me ... Maybe you already have, maybe you never will ... My deepest apologies. God bless you all."