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Category: Antelope Valley

Yaroslavsky blasts Perry for mailer that implies he opposes Greuel

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky
This post has been updated. See below for details.

County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky slammed mayoral candidate Jan Perry’s campaign on Monday for a mailer that implies that he opposes Wendy Greuel, the latest in a series of controversial mail pieces put out by the city councilwoman attacking the city controller.

"I am very disappointed that the Jan Perry for Mayor campaign has used one of its mailings to falsely convey the impression that I have taken sides in this year's election for mayor,” Yaroslavsky said in a statement. “In fact, I have remained neutral in this election in thought, word and deed.”

The mailer features a picture of the bespectacled, longtime county supervisor pointing his finger, next to the words, “Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky: On Wendy Greuel’s Budget Plans.” Critical quotes from Yaroslavsky that appeared in The Times are highlighted, with the conclusion, “Wendy Greuel: Can’t Be Trusted!”

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The mailer says that Yaroslavsky was discussing Greuel’s budget proposal, but the quotes were more narrowly targeted at Greuel’s proposal to increase the size of the city’s police and fire departments.

Yaroslavsky toyed with a mayoral run. Since he decided against it, the three elected officials running have  sought his endorsement. He has remained neutral in the March 5 primary and has said he doesn’t know if he will endorse in the runoff.

Yaroslavsky said in his statement that he has been openly frustrated in all of the candidates’ lack of specifics about “the precarious state of the city's finances.”

WHERE THEY STAND: Los Angeles mayoral candidates in their own words

“Those criticisms have not been exclusively aimed at one candidate. On the contrary, they have been aimed equally at ALL the major candidates who, in my judgment, have not realistically addressed what they would do about the city's financial challenges,” he said. “While my quoted comments are in the public domain, it is not appropriate for the Perry campaign to use them to imply that I endorse or oppose any of the candidates for mayor, because I do not."

[Updated, 2:59 p.m. Feb. 25: The Perry campaign stood by the mailer. “Supervisor Yaroslavsky is an extremely sophisticated individual and exceptional public servant who made his distaste for Wendy Greuel's budget plans and her disregard for the city's current fiscal crisis very clear, and on the public record,” said spokeswoman Helen Sanchez. “The councilwoman's mailer in no way implies the supervisor endorses any candidate; it merely restates his opinion.”]

Perry, who is fiercely trying to win over supporters in Greuel’s home base in the Valley, has been criticized over several mailers in recent weeks. On Friday, two prominent Democratic leaders blasted a mail piece that implied that Greuel was a Republican, despite the fact that she has been a registered Democrat for more than two decades. Mailers that criticized Greuel’s votes on matters that Perry herself voted for led Greuel’s campaign to label Perry a “hypocrite.”  A quote from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was used in one Perry mailer aimed at Latino voters to suggest he was backing her candidacy, when he has not endorsed in the contest. Another mailer, directed to areas where the mayor is less popular, characterized Greuel's candidacy as an extension of the Villaraigosa era.

Perry and her campaign have defended the mail pieces as typical, targeted campaigning.

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Photo: Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Four wounded, suspects sought in shooting outside Lancaster theater

Authorities were asking for the public’s help in identifying suspects involved in the shooting and wounding of four men outside a Lancaster concert venue early Saturday.

The incident occurred about 2 a.m. after an altercation among patrons of Industry Theater in the 43000 block of Business Center Parkway spilled into the parking lot and gunfire erupted, according to Lt. Vince Carter of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. 

“Four innocent patrons not involved in the altercation were hit,” Carter said. The victims -- age 22, 26, 29 and 37 -- were taken to a local hospital where they remain in “stable condition,” he said. They were not identified.

The suspects remain at large, authorities said, and no further details were available, authorities said.

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Storm expected to bring cold rain, snow; road closures planned

A cold, blustery storm originating from the Gulf of Alaska is expected to move down the California coast Tuesday, creating traffic headaches in some places, authorities warned. 

Possible thunderstorms were expected to affect most of the Southland, bringing between one-tenth to half an inch of rain in most areas.

Snow could fall as low as 1,500 feet, and there was high potential for icy roadways, including Interstate 5 from the Grapevine to the Santa Clarita Valley, according to the National Weather Service.

Highway 14 through Soledad Canyon and Antelope Valley, Highway 33 in the Ventura mountains and Highway 138 through the Antelope Valley might also be difficult to pass, according to the National Weather Service.

For roads entering the Angeles National Forest, the L.A. County Public Works Department said it would begin closures at 3 a.m. Tuesday. The closures will affect the Angeles Forest Highway from Aliso Canyon Road to Angeles Crest Highway, Big Tujunga Canyon Road from Angeles Forest Highway to Vogel Flats and Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road from Angeles Forest Highway to Angeles Crest Highway

Once the roads are closed, county officials warn, local access will not be permitted. The closures are to remain in effect until the storm system has passed and the roads have been inspected.

More information and updates can be found on the county’s website.

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Manti Te'o hoax: Tuiasosopo says he was 'damaged' by molestation

The saga surrounding the Palmdale man who created Manti Te'o's fake girlfriend took another turn Friday when the hoaxer said he was molested as a child and felt “too damaged” to present himself as Ronaiah Tuiasosopo.

Tuiasosopo, 22, spoke publicly in the second part of a television interview with Dr. Phil McGraw on Friday and was pressed to explain why he created "Lennay Kekua" -- a persona the Notre Dame football star met online and who then supposedly died of leukemia in September.

During the college football season, Te’o repeatedly spoke to members of the media, including The Times, about his girlfriend, the car accident that left her seriously injured and the leukemia that led to her death on the same day Te'o's grandmother died. The tale became one of the most well-known sports stories of the year as Te’o led Notre Dame to an undefeated season and a berth in the national championship game.

Tuiasosopo told McGraw that he was first molested by an older person “close” to his family when he was roughly 12 years old. When he was touched, he said, he “didn’t know what was going on.”

Meanwhile, he said he did not have a close relationship with his father growing up. Titus Tuiasosopo, his son said, was away from the family often but had returned around the time the molestation began.

Guided with questions by McGraw, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo admitted that what started as touching evolved into “every form of molestation abuse you can think about.” He said he was raped more than once, “to the point you couldn’t walk.” He did not tell his parents, he said, because he feared his father would become angry and that the news would “drive him away.”

“I just hoped that it would go away,”  Tuiasosopo said, “but it didn’t.”

Tuiasosopo said his experiences and the “incredible pressure” that came with them were key to creating Kekua. He said he felt he could not accomplish things as himself, and added that he was “abused as if I was a girl.”

Subsequently, he said, it was validating to see Te’o talk so glowingly about Kekua after she died.

“I can’t express how sorry I am toward Manti and his family and everyone affected by this,” Tuiasosopo  told McGraw. “I can’t express how sorry I am to my family, just the ones who have been there for me no matter what, and everyone who carried my last name or has been affected by the media -- I can’t express how sorry I am for all of it.

“People say, well, does he even have any feeling toward this,” he continued, tears streaming down his face. “The truth is I hurt every day for the decisions I made.”

Tuiasosopo's parents joined him on camera for part of the interview. Titus Tuiasosopo, who is a pastor at an Antelope Valley church, said the news initially “smacked us in the face.” But he said he “understands the choice his son made.”

“He is still my son,”  the father said, “and we love him unconditionally.”

McGraw also demanded that Tuiasosopo speak in the voice he used when he spoke to Te’o as Kekua. Te’o had provided clips of voicemails the fictional girlfriend left on his phone. Behind a screen, and then later at his own home, Tuiasosopo spoke as “Kekua” and McGraw sent the voice samples back to experts for analysis. They concluded the voice was a match.

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Manti Te'o hoax: Tuiasosopo faked 'girlfriend's' death after fight

Tuiasosopo

The Palmdale man who created Manti Te'o's fake girlfriend said he staged the woman's death after a fight with Te'o over whether the football star was talking to other women.

Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, 22, spoke publicly for the first time regarding the allegations in a television interview with Dr. Phil McGraw. Tuiasosopo confirmed that he was the one behind "Lennay Kekua," the girlfriend Te'o met online and was told died of leukemia in September.

During the college football season, Te’o repeatedly spoke to the media, including The Times, about his girlfriend, the car accident that left her seriously injured and the leukemia that led to her death, which occurred the same day Te'o's grandmother died. The tale became one of the most well-known sports stories of the year as Te’o led his team to an undefeated season and championship berth.

Tuiasosopo told McGraw the relationship between Kekua and Te'o had been strained for about two weeks before Kekua's supposed death.

"Things had gotten a little shaken," he said. "They were talking less."

At one point, Tuiasosopo said he logged onto Te'o's social media accounts to "make sure nothing was different." He noticed changes on Te'o's Skype, he said, and Kekua asked Te'o if he had been talking to other girls.

Te'o was angry the morning Kekua confronted him, Tuiasosopo said, and after Tuiasosopo learned Te'o's grandmother had died that day, he backed off. "Forget everything," he recalled telling Te'o. "I'm sorry."

But Te'o and Kekua continued to fight, Tuiasosopo said. Te'o said he "didn't need" Kekua and had been talking to other women, including two ex-girlfriends, Tuiasosopo said.

"So from my understanding, OK, we're done. But me, Ronaiah, I was hurting. It hit me like a brick wall," Tuiasosopo said. "I was like, 'Whoa, I've given so much into this.’ And I realized right then in that moment, that I poured so much into Lennay, that I myself was getting nothing, and look what I was left with.

"I was crying that morning," he continued. "I was hurt, so right then and there I made this decision: 'I can't do this Lennay thing anymore.' I ended it."

Continue reading »

Ronaiah Tuiasosopo publicly tells of 'feelings' for Manti Te'o

Tuiasosopo
The Palmdale man who created the fictitious girlfriend of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o said although the woman was fake, his feelings were for the football star were not.

Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, 22, spoke publicly for the first time regarding the allegations in an interview with Dr. Phil McGraw, set to air Thursday and Friday. The interview began when Tuiasosopo confirmed he was the one behind "Lennay Kekua," the girlfriend Te'o met online and was told died of leukemia in September.

Tuiasosopo told McGraw that Te'o "had no idea" Kekua did not exist. In other interviews, Te'o has denied perpetrating the ruse.

"He had no involvement," Tuiasosopo said. "He did not know anything."

Tuiasosopo said he considered Kekua another part of him and realized the more he communicated with Te'o the more his own feelings become involved. The two shared common values and bonded over faith and family, he said.

"As twisted and confusing as it may be, yeah, I cared for this person," he said of Te'o. "I did all that I could to make this person a better person, even though I wasn't getting nothing out of it."

"Of course it's very shameful and very painful to talk about," Tuiasosopo continued. "But the truth of it that ... I grew feelings. I grew emotions that sooner or later I couldn't control anymore."

When McGraw asked Tuiasosopo about his sexuality, he replied: "If you look at this situation and look at everything I've been through, I would say, yeah, I am gay. But honestly, I'm so confused and I'm so lost and I'm just finding me."

"You've heard of recovering drug addicts?" he said. "It takes a lot of courage to stand and say that. To recover from homosexuality  and this type of thing. Not only that, coming back to your real life, as hard as a task as that is, I'm going to do all that I can to live right."

Tuiasosopo’s comments add another twist to a story so bizarre that reporters from across the country have converged on Tuiasosopo’s home in the Antelope Valley. News of the hoax was first reported earlier this month on the website Deadspin.com.

Tuiasosopo, the report said, was the mastermind behind the hoax and used photos from an old high school classmate and social media to connect Kekua with Te’o.

During the college football season, Te’o repeatedly spoke to the media, including The Times, about his girlfriend, the car accident that left her seriously injured and the leukemia that led to her September death — the same day Te'o's grandmother died. The tale became one of the most well-known sports stories of the year as Te’o led his team to an undefeated season and championship berth.

Tuiasosopo said he killed Kekua after a fight with Te'o over whether the football player had been Skyping with other girls. During the argument, Te'o said he "didn't need" Kekua, Tuiasosopo said.

"Me, Ronaiah, I was hurting. It hit me like a brick wall," Tuiasosopo said. "I was like, `Whoa, I've given so much into this.’ And I realized right then in that moment, that I poured so much into Lennay, that I myself was getting nothing, and look what I was left with.”

"I was crying that morning," he continued. "I was hurt, so right then and there I made this decision: 'I can't do this Lennay thing anymore.' I ended it."

Three months later, Tuiasosopo said he called Te'o and told him Kekua was alive. When asked why he reached out again, Tuiasosopo said he wanted to "come clean and make everything right."

"I felt like, even if we ended this and we moved on with our lives and this wasn't brought back up and the truth wasn't known ... we wouldn't truly be moving on," he said. "It just wasn't the truth."

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Photo: Talk show host Dr. Phil McGraw interviewed Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the 22-year-old Palmdale man behind an elaborate hoax involving Notre Dame football star Manti Te'o. The interview marks the first time Tuiasosopo has spoken publicly about the allegations. Credit: CBS Television Distribution/Peteski Productions

Manti Te’o 'absolutely' not part of girlfriend hoax, Dr. Phil says

Ronaiah Tuiasosopo

This post and headline have been corrected; see note at the bottom for details.

After speaking with the 22-year-old Palmdale man who created Manti Te’o’s fake girlfriend, Dr. Phil McGraw said he does not believe the football star was in on the scheme.

McGraw sat down with Tuiasosopo for an interview that will air starting Thursday. McGraw went on “Today” to talk about the interview earlier this week, and when asked if Te’o was involved, replied: “Absolutely, unequivocally no.”

Tuiasosopo pretended to be Te’o’s girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, for months, communicating on the phone and through social media. Tuiasosopo went so far as to disguise his voice to sound like a woman when he spoke to Te’o on the phone, his attorney, Milton Grimes, said in an interview with The Times.

Grimes said his client decided to come clean about the hoax in an attempt to “heal.”
“He knows that if he doesn’t come out and tell the truth, it will interfere with him getting out of this place that he is in,” Grimes said.

“This is part of my public healing,” Grimes quoted Tuiasosopo as saying.

McGraw, who spoke with Tuiasosopo for an interview set to air Thursday and Friday, described the 22-year-old as “a young man that fell deeply, romantically in love” with Te’o. McGraw, speaking on the “Today” show, said he asked Tuiasosopo about his sexuality, and the 22-year-old said he was “confused.”

Continue reading »

Manti Te'o hoax suspect says he's 'in love' with football star

 

The man accused of hoaxing Manti Te’o fell “deeply romantically in love” with the Notre Dame linebacker and said he was “confused” about his sexuality, TV’s Dr. Phil McGraw told the "Today" show in a clip that aired Wednesday.

The Antelope Valley man, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, 22, is allegedly the person behind the Te’o fake-girlfriend affair. He is planning to come clean and reveal the exact nature of his relationship with the football player and his role in the hoax during an interview with McGraw to be aired Thursday, his attorney, Milton Grimes, told The Times.

Grimes said Tuiasosopo was acting when he portrayed "Lennay Kekua," the woman with whom Te’o said he had fallen in love, but never met. Grimes said his client pretended to be the woman in phone calls with the football star, disguising his voice to sound like a woman, similar to what people do when they are role-playing or method acting.

"I don’t think it’s so unusual that a person could imitate the voice of a person of a different sex," Grimes said.

In a short clip of that interview obtained by The Times, McGraw asks Tuiasosopo why he ended his relationship with Te’o.

“For many reasons,” Tuiasosopo said. “There were many times where Manti and Lennay had broken up before.... They would break up, and then something would bring them back together, whether it was something going on in his life or something going in Lennay’s life -- in this case, in my life. I wanted to end it, because after everything I had gone through, I finally realized that I just had to move on with my life. I had to get me, Ronaiah. I had to start just living and just let this go.”

Grimes, the onetime lawyer for the late Rodney King, said Tuiasosopo "feels as though he needs therapy and part of that therapy is to ... tell the truth."

McGraw told "Today" that “Ronaiah had a number of life experiences that damaged this young man in some very serious ways,” and after speaking with Tuiasosopo, he believes that Te’o "absolutely, unequivocally" was not involved in the hoax.

Grimes insisted his client didn't mean to hurt Te'o.

"He did not intend to harm him in any way," Grimes said.

Te'o had spoken to reporters repeatedly about his supposed girlfriend and her battle with cancer, a story that captivated college football fans throughout fall 2012, when the Heisman Trophy runner-up helped his team finish out the regular season undefeated and helped get them to the national championship game.

Deadspin.com report published Jan. 16 first revealed that the girlfriend was fake, and identified Tuiasosopo as the man behind the hoax.

Grimes said Tuiasosopo had chosen Dr. Phil for his first public appearance because he felt that as a medical professional, Dr. Phil "might be inclined to have better insight [than a regular reporter] into what he’s going through ... the particular condition," Grimes said.

Diane O'Meara, a Southern California woman whose photos were apparently used in the fake girlfriend's social media accounts, told The Times that Tuiasosopo repeatedly asked for photos and videos from her in the weeks before the hoax unraveled. She called his actions "kind of annoying," but added, "as a compassionate person, I totally believed him."

Grimes said he had warned his client, who is seeing a medical professional, that he could face legal consequences for admitting that he falsified his identity on the Internet. But Tuiasosopo insisted that going public was something he had to do in order to move on with his healing process.

"His point is that he wants to heal," Grimes said. "He knows that if he doesn’t come out and tell the truth, it will interfere with him getting out of this place that he is in."

"This is part of my public healing," Grimes quoted Tuiasosopo as saying.

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Man found in his Lancaster home with a fatal stab wound

Lancaser homicides.
A man died after he was found in his Lancaster home with a stab wound, authorities said Tuesday night.

The victim was found about 7 p.m. Tuesday by a friend who stopped by the home in the 43400 block of 16th Street West, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said. 

The man was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. His name and age were not released. 

Homicide detectives were at the home gathering evidence. No other details were immediately available.

Since January 2007, at least 59 homicides have been reported in Lancaster, according to the Times Homicide Report database.

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Manti Te'o hoax: Alleged mastermind wants therapy, attorney says

Photo: Talk show host Dr. Phil McGraw, left, interviews Ronaiah Tuiasosopo during taping for the "Dr. Phil Show" in Los Angeles. Credit: Associated Press
The attorney for Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the alleged mastermind behind the Manti Te’o fake girlfriend affair, said his client never wanted to hurt the football star.

"He did not intend to harm him in anyway," attorney Milton Grimes said.

Tuiasosopo was planning to come clean and reveal the exact nature of his relationship with the football player and his role in the hoax during an interview with TV’s Dr. Phil, Grimes told The Times Tuesday.

The pre-taped heart-to-heart would be aired Thursday, Grimes said.

The onetime lawyer for the late Rodney King said the 22-year-old Tuiasosopo of Lancaster, "feels as though he needs therapy and part of that therapy is to ... tell the truth," Grimes said.

Grimes said his client had pretended to be Lennay Kekua, the woman with whom Te’o said he had fallen in love -- but never met. The attorney declined to say why his client decided to play act with Te’o or whether he had personally known Te’o in his real persona as Ronaiah Tuiasosopo.

The attorney insisted that it was absolutely plausible that Tuiasosopo could have disguised his voice to sound like a woman, similar to what people do when they are role playing or method acting, Grimes said.

"It don’t think it’s so unusual that a person could imitate the voice of a person of a different sex," Grimes said.

Te'o had spoken to reporters repeatedly about his supposed girlfriend and her battle with cancer, a story that captivated college football fans throughout the fall of 2012, when the Heisman Trophy runner-up helped his team to an undefeated regular season and to the national championship game.

A Deadspin.com report published Jan. 16 first revealed that the girlfriend was fake, and identified Tuiasosopo as the man behind the hoax. 

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