Girlfriend Hoax

January 18, 2013 by  

Girlfriend Hoax, The origin of the mysterious hoax involving Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o and the fabrication of a dead girlfriend has deep ties to Southern California.

The online publication Deadspin identified a former star high school quarterback from Palmdale as the apparent originator of the hoax, and a 22-year-old woman from Torrance whose photo was used, without her knowledge, to create the girlfriend persona.

On Thursday, reporters from around the country descended on a quiet Palmdale cul-de-sac to try to find out more about Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, who played at both Antelope Valley and Paraclete high schools.

He was identified as the person who created – and later “killed” – a fake online girlfriend persona that apparently fooled his friend Te’o, though some have speculated the linebacker was in on the hoax for publicity purposes.

Tuiasosopo’s father, Titus, is a pastor who runs the Oasis Christian Church out of his home, as well as at a Methodist church in Palmdale, neighbors said. He also played football at the USC in the early 1990s. In fact, many other members of the family played college and pro ball, according to Deadspin.

Interviews with neighbors and public records indicate about eight or more family members live at the home.

Tuiasosopo’s family at the house refused to speak to the media.

But Ed Lalau, a cousin of Titus Tuiasosopo, said the scandal has been difficult, and surprising, for the family.

“This is all still new to me. I don’t think Ronaiah would do that,” Lalau said in a brief telephone interview with the Daily News. “He comes from a good family.”

He added: “I just pray that we get over this. It’s been a nightmare for everyone.”

Ronaiah Tuiasosopo attended three high schools in three years, finishing his senior year at Paraclete, a Catholic high school in Lancaster, where he led his team to a 12-1 record.

As a sophomore at Antelope Valley High he was named all-Golden League honorable mention. A 2005 profile of him in the Daily News described him as having natural ability, a strong arm and leadership skills beyond his age.

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