STOCKTON (CBS13) – Ronaiah Tuiasosopo told Dr. Phil exclusively that he fell in love with Notre Dame football player Manti Te’o while carrying out an elaborate hoax.
Tuiasosopo spent some time in the Central Valley, attending high school in Stockton; and the people who knew the young man are surprised he could do such a thing.
“I just had to just start living and let this go,” said Tuiasosopo’s former teacher Linda Reed.
Tuiasosopo admits it all to Dr. Phil, he impersonated a woman who didn’t exist and tricked Te’o into a long distance relationship.
“It just wasn’t the truth. Right then and there I needed to come clean and make everything right,” Tuiasosopo told Dr. Phil.
In the first part of the interview, which aired Thursday on CBS13, Tuisosopo says he had romantic feelings for Te’o.
“I’ve always known him as an honest person,” Reed said.
Reed is an instructor at Stockton’s Franklin High School, where Tuisosopo once attended.
“He made a serious error in his judgment when he chose to do this, but I don’t judge him as a person,” she said.
Reed says while she feels for Te’o, Tuisosopo has obvious issues he must deal with.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with being gay or being straight, it has to do with being up front and honest to a person,” Reed said.
Honesty, she says, is what she would expect from Tuisosopo, a former Franklin football player.
“I’m sad to think that he would have to go to such lengths to get this other boy’s attention,” Reed said.