Eyewitness News

The Te'o hoax

Thursday, January 17, 2013
Bill Ritters daily take on the news.

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.

He was the victim of a hoax. That's his story and he's sticking to it.

If you haven't been following the saga of college football star Manti Te'o (prounced Man-tie Tay-o), then you've been missing some kind of drama/soap opera/ sordid affair/bizarre/you-come-up-with-the-word watercooler topic of the day.

Mr. Te'o, a Mormon from Hawaii playing linebacker for a Catholic university in Indiana - claims his supposed girlfriend supposedly died on the same day his grandmother died last September. His I'll-play-for-them cheer was the most inspiring sports story of the year, as Notre Dame charged towards last week's championship game. (They lost, he played miserably against Alabama.)

Notre Dame came out last night with a flowery endorsement of their star, saying their own investigation found he was the victim of a hoax.

But there is growing evidence fueling doubt about the account given by the grieving player. Are we to believe he met this woman or never met her? Both have been reported at various times. So many holes in this story, that one wonders why Notre Dame so quickly concluded that their player was the victim of this hoax.

He well may have been, but his versions, as recounted to teammates and friends, are so filled with contradictions as to strain any sense of credibility. Which of course begs the two biggest questions: Why would anyone want to pull off a hoax like this on Mr. Te'o? And did Mr. Te'o know about this hoax long before the rest of us?

We don't know the answers, and I suspect in a world filled with terrorists holding hostages (some of them Americans) in Algiers, and economies struggling, and guns out of control in this country, this story might not rank as a top 10. But it's a talker, and figuring out the motives behind creating this hoax - whatever the source - could indeed be a story with deep and important roots.

I'm just sayin'.

We'll have the latest on this sordid affair, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, what in the world happened at a house in Amityville on Long Island? What a tragic mystery, as we first reported last night at 11. A 4-year-old boy, with "trauma" on him, dies. The person who called 9-1-1 wasn't in the home when cops arrive - only the boy was. His 6-year-old sister and their guardians are nowhere to be found. Jeff Pegues is there for us, trying to find some answers.

And what could be a huge financial blow to the taxpayers of New York City: After a year of intense negotiations, talks have broken down between Mayor Bloomberg and the Teachers Union, and now the teacher evaluations will not be ready in time to meet a strict federal funding deadline. At stake: $400 million in loss to the City. Oy.

Jim Dolan takes a look at what happened, and what happens now to your wallet, if you live in New York City. (And while you're crying on your checkbook - have you seen your property tax bill from last year in the City?)

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Lee Goldberg's snowy and brisk AccuWeather forecast, and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Diana Williams (in for Sade Baderinwa) and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER

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