ESPN advances story with interview, but is anonymous friend to be believed?

ESPN’s Shelley Smith landed an interview with a friend of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the person alleged to have been behind the Manti Te’o hoax.

From the post:

The friend, a woman in her mid-20s, agreed to be interviewed under the condition that she not be identified, saying she was fearful for her family’s safety because of the overwhelming publicity the story has generated. In the interview, she did allow for her voice to be recorded.

She says Tuiasosopo gave her the tearful confession and account of how he played, what he said was at first a game, on the unsuspecting Te’o. And, she says, he told her that it wasn’t the first time he had done it.

“He (Ronaiah) told me that Manti was not involved at all, he was a victim. … The girlfriend was a lie, the accident was a lie, the leukemia was a lie,” said the woman. “He was crying, he was literally crying, he’s like ‘I know, I know what I have to do.’

“It’s not only Manti, but he was telling me that it’s a lot of other people they had done this to.”

I think ESPN exercised caution in this situation and carefully vetted the source. But who knows anymore? What if this woman is just another extension of the grand hoax?

I asked ESPN for a comment, and spokesman Mike Soltys replied, “We’re going to let the reporting speak for itself.”

Still, there are plenty of doubters on Twitter:

Jason McIntyre of Big Lead: “What evidence did Shelley Smith have that the “mastermind” confessed to the “friend?” Polygraph? Recorded? Or is this another rabbit hole?”

Dan Levy of Bleacher Report: “Re: this Te’o hoax…these ppl spent 2 years tricking him & 3 months watching nation fawn over the story They aren’t playing us now? Please.”

I mean, has anyone seen this woman’s birth certificate? How do we know she’s real?

And the story continues.


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