Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the person identified as being behind the Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax, called a church friend in early December crying and admitted to duping the Heisman finalist from Notre Dame, the friend told ESPN's "Outside the Lines" on Thursday.

The friend agreed to be interviewed under the condition that she not be identified. She said she was fearful for her family's safety because of the case's publicity.

Te'o became a subject of controversy earlier this week when it was revealed that talk of his girlfriend dying of leukemia was revealed to be a hoax. Notre Dame said Te'o was duped by perpetrators of the hoax into a online relationship with the girlfriend, who apparently never existed.

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said Friday during the taping of his weekly radio show that the school has encouraged Te'o to speak publicly about being a victim of the hoax.

ESPN and the Associated Press contributed to this report.



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