Diane O’Meara was the real face of the fake girlfriend who fooled Notre Dame star Manti Te’o, and now the 23-year-old O’Meara is speaking out about how she was sucked into the hoax.
News broke last week that the woman Te’o believed to be his girlfriend, known to him as Lennay Kekua, was actually fake. Kekua became a major plotline for Notre Dame this year after it was reported that she died of leukemia in September, on the same day that Te’o lost his grandmother.
An expose in Deadspin uncovered the hoax, and also found that the picture Te’o believed to be Kekua actually came from someone else, later revealed to be Diane O’Meara.
Now O’Meara has broken her silence, saying that the photos were used without her knowledge, NESN noted. Diane O’Meara also said that the person who orchestrated the hoax, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, called her to apologize for using the photos.
“I don’t think there’s anything [Tuiasosopo] could say to me that would fix this,” O’Meara said.
O’Meara, who attended high school with Tuiasosopo but said they were not close, added that she said Tuiasosopo was literally stalking her on Facebook for five years.
While the initial reaction against Manti Te’o was harsh, and many jumped to the conclusion that he was somehow in on the hoax, evidence now points to him as a victim in the ordeal. O’Meara said she sympathizes with him.
“I’m still trying to wrap my head around this entire confusing situation myself,” Diane O’Meara told Savannah Guthrie on the Today show. “If Manti is truly innocent in this entire situation, I empathize with him because I assume we would have the same emotions — you know, frustration, you know, anger, confusion.”