The father of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, who has been publicly identified as the man behind the Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax, thanked his Antelope Valley congregation Sunday for their support for his family but declined to discuss the case with reporters.
“I want to thank you for your prayers, church family,” said an emotional Pastor Titus Tuiasosopo, pausing to regain his composure. “I love you. Thank you for being here.”
At the end of the two-hour service, his brother Peter “Navy” Tuiasosopo told reporters in the church parking lot that the family had obtained legal counsel and would be giving an interview later this week.
“The family is strong,” he said. “The family will stay together.”
Te'o, a star linebacker at Notre Dame, has strongly denied he had any role in an elaborate hoax involving a girlfriend he allegedly met on the Internet and later learned did not exist, blaming instead Ronaiah Tuiasosopo for the entire incident.
"I wasn't faking it. I wasn't part of this." he told ESPN last week.
In the interview, Te'o identified the alleged hoaxer as Tuiasosopo. He said Tuiasosopo and two other people perpetrated the scam. Tuiasosopo, he added, called him last week to apologize.
"Two guys and a girl are responsible for the whole thing," he said.
A Deadspin.com report Wednesday linked the Palmdale man to the hoax that fooled media outlets across the nation. The man allegedly was involved in creating a Twitter account for a fictitious woman and linking her with the Heisman Trophy runner-up, who spoke repeatedly to the media about her, her illness and death.
"I hope he learns," Te'o told ESPN, referring to Tuiasosopo. "I hope he understands what he's done. I don't wish an ill thing to somebody. I just hope he learns. I think embarrassment is big enough."