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Notre Dame’s Te’o “investigation” was lacking in many respects

Jack Swarbrick AP

When Notre Dame mobilized on Wednesday night to characterize the Manti Te’o fake dead girlfriend hoax as something for which Te’o had no responsibility, the effort included a press conference from Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick, who declared among other things that the university’s ultimate conclusions were based on a report from a private investigation firm that had rolled up its sleeves and gotten to the truth.

Apparently, no sleeves were rolled in the making of the report.

According to the South Bend Tribune, a university spokesman admits that the investigators conducted no interviews.  The firm didn’t interview Te’o or his family.  The firm didn’t attempt to contact the admitted perpetrator of the hoax, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo.

The firm didn’t examine cell phone records to confirm Te’o’s claim of eight-hour phone conversations with the person posing as Lennay Kekua.  The firm also didn’t look at emails or other electronic communications that would demonstrate the length and extent of the communications between Te’o and the person(s) playing the role of Kekua.

If pressed, Notre Dame would surely claim that those steps weren’t needed because the smoking gun was found by searching the Internet and other public sources.  If forced to tell the whole truth, Notre Dame likely would say the investigators were instructed to do nothing that would increase the chances of the story being leaked and in turn reported before the January 7 BCS national title game.  Once interviews begin, other names are mentioned.  To be complete, those people need to be interviewed, too.  Eventually, the interviews could have included someone who would have blabbed about the situation to the media.

Of course, an interview with Te’o wouldn’t have done that.  Instead, the investigators presumably received whatever notes Swarbrick created during his possible kid-gloves meetings with Te’o.

And so Notre Dame’s proclamation that no laws were broken was made without the benefit of Te’o’s uncle’s suspicions about Tuiasosopo’s financial incentives, or Te’o’s claim that at one point he was asked to provide checking account numbers, a clear sign that there was an attempt to turn something that supposedly was sport into profit.

“Early on, she said that she was going to send me money, actually,” Te’o told ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap.  “And she wanted to send it and she wanted to directly deposit it into my account.  So she wants to know my checking account number, which I didn’t give her. . . .  I’m not giving my checking account number.  I don’t care who you are.  I’m not giving my checking account number out to you.  Then she went on and asked my best friend, Robby.  Hey, Rob, I want to help you guys out with groceries or help you guys pay for the bills for the house.  I’ve saved up some money, you know. Give me your checking account number, and I’ll put it in there. . . .  I told him, whatever you do, do not give out your checking account number.”

Te’o said that the “red flag” went away when he was told by the student credit union that someone who wants to put money in to his account couldn’t take money out with the account numbers.  But then he didn’t provide the numbers, even though he no longer believed money could be taken from his account.

Still, the “national” firm Notre Dame hired didn’t even know about the potential red flag, because the firm didn’t ask Te’o about that.  Or anything else.  Or anyone else.

So the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is still out there.  Between the suspicions regarding Tuiasosopo and the attempt to get Te’o’s checking account numbers, there’s enough evidence to justify exploration of the situation by the appropriate officials.  If the appropriate officials are so inclined.

If they’re not, we’d love to know why.  A major goal of the criminal justice system is deterrence.  And there’s no better way to deter crime than to fight it in the context of a high-profile case.

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21 Responses to “Notre Dame’s Te’o “investigation” was lacking in many respects”
  1. 69finfan says: Jan 20, 2013 10:07 AM

    How in the world do you have an 8 hour phone conversation with somebody you have never met?

  2. sammyscrawfo says: Jan 20, 2013 10:15 AM

    So he didn’t trust the “love of his life” enough to give her his account number? Give me a break, this is such a joke

  3. bucrightoff says: Jan 20, 2013 10:40 AM

    “Hey Manti, thanks for knocking us off the front page!”

    The NRA

  4. pjhurley5 says: Jan 20, 2013 10:43 AM

    I totally agree with this article. Swarbrick obviously has a special relationship with Te’o that means a great deal to him (based on his reports that Te’o is the only player who has ever told him that he loved him, etc.). That’s great – it’s touching to see that type of relationship develop. To be clear I have no problem with that whatsoever. What IS a problem in the process of uncovering the truth is that the person leading and/or directing the investigation efforts (Swarbrick) is completely and utterly biased in a few ways. First, his relationship with Te’o necessarily biases him. Second, he’s biased because he wants someone connected with Notre Dame (Te’o) to be the victim, not the perpetrator, because the former possibly could result in a groundswell of support for ND, while the latter would result in heavy criticism and negative publicity. When people say Te’o doesn’t owe anything to anyone that’s not quite right. He owes it to himself to prove he’s innocent (if he really is) so he can be viewed as trustworthy by potential employers AND he owes it to the people at ND. The reason is that he’s made them look very foolish in placing trust in him and vehemently defending him if he ends up as a perpetrator.

  5. pinion8ted says: Jan 20, 2013 10:53 AM

    Wow ….. they didn’t interview Te’o, they didn’t interview Tuiasosopo, they didn’t look at electronic evidence (e-mails, texts, phine records) …….

    So, Notre Dame paid for a “professional” investigation, that was as “fake” as Lennay Kekua herself?

    Very fitting …. how else do you investigate a fake girlfriend, than with a fake investigation?

  6. clownsfan says: Jan 20, 2013 10:55 AM

    Nobody asked for his acct #. This kid is still lying. Still covering. Only Manti & his Boo, Ronnie T, know the truth.

  7. greyhawk9 says: Jan 20, 2013 10:57 AM

    soooo..basically there wasnt really an investigation at all

  8. steel420 says: Jan 20, 2013 11:02 AM

    Notre Dame is a fraud and Manti Te’o is a fraud. They were both afraid of being exposed and looking like fools before the championship game, but thankfully Alabama took care of that anyways.

  9. steviemo says: Jan 20, 2013 11:14 AM

    Swarbrick simply embarrassed himself with that ridiculous press conference and summary of their “investigation.”

    What he meant to say: “A few of us googled ‘catfish’ and we pretty much figured everything out.”

    Nice job.

  10. 1rockyracoon says: Jan 20, 2013 11:15 AM

    The web of lies keeps growing. What is he still trying to hide? If this was simply him being tricked on the Internet then the whole story would have been told by now and the media would move on. There must be something else he is still hiding.

  11. manilovethepftcensors says: Jan 20, 2013 11:23 AM

    My first question would have to be why is Notre Dame’s athletic director and the university in general so involved in this? I understand Te’o is still a student there but he’s no longer an athlete and shouldn’t this be a personal matter anyway? Why are events that transpired in Te’o’s personal life of such great concern to the university?
    I will answer my own question: Notre Dame is so concerned with their image that they will go to any lengths to try to make it appear as though they are not the bad guys in any way shape or form. They are so arrogant and conceited that they can’t stand to think that their image could be tarnished in any way. They are so used to having their way and getting a pass for anything and everything from the national sports media that they must be really freaking out right now. Quite frankly I’m enjoying every minute of watching Jack Swarbrick squirm in front of the cameras and I hope that if they are found to be complicit in any way that they are heavily penalized.

  12. tluke25 says: Jan 20, 2013 11:23 AM

    Drew Brees needs an explanation

  13. bobzilla1001 says: Jan 20, 2013 11:40 AM

    As a 7-year veteran of Internet dating, I’m having a difficult time wrapping my head around this entire story.
    While it is not uncommon to fall “head over heels” for someone prior to an initial meeting, routinely spending eight hours on the phone and declaring that person a “girlfriend” without first meeting is simply child-like behavior.
    Obviously, Te’o has the mentality of a 12-year-old. How such a childish person qualified to attend a major university is beyond me. Notre Dame ought to be investigated…

  14. pinion8ted says: Jan 20, 2013 11:42 AM

    “In his interview Friday with ESPN, Te’o said a group of people connected with Tuiasosopo showed up, after the team’s curfew, at the Notre Dame team hotel in Florida. One of the group took photos in the lobby and called Te’o and asked if he wanted to come down and join them”

    Right there, Te’o’s story is exposed.

    If he truly were the victim of a hoax, and the perpetrators of this hoax showed up in his hotel lobby the eve of the national championship – after the university had already been notified, and the “investigation” showed it was a hoax – why didn’t Te’o notify the school officials that the hoaxers were right there IN THE HOTEL LOBBY!!!!!!!

    Makes perfect sense, right?

    Instead he simply “hung up”.

    No, Te’o is lying through his teeth.

  15. irishking says: Jan 20, 2013 11:46 AM

    It is hard to believe that this thing has gone as deep as it has. If Swarbrick was supposed to be in charge of damage control, I would say that he has failed. All he did was fan the flames.

    Noticeably missing from all of this is Kelly. To my knowledge he has not said much of anything lately.

  16. irishking says: Jan 20, 2013 11:54 AM

    @pinion8ted

    Te’o did not call anyone because he wanted to stay ‘focused’ on the big game. The prankster group down in the hotel lobby was nothing but a distraction for him. If you don’t believe this, then ask Jack Swarbrick. He knows.

    This convoluted story has so confused me that I need to take a sedative just to relax.

  17. joeindc says: Jan 20, 2013 12:23 PM

    @69finfan…. of all the unbelievable stuff in this in this story, having long phone conversations with someone you haven’t met isn’t one of them. That’s something that has happened for literally millions of people… dating or not. Very common for anyone who seriously plays MMOs.

  18. joeindc says: Jan 20, 2013 12:25 PM

    @sammyscrawfo…. this is also one of the few details that isn’t odd whatsoever. First and foremost, it would be a possible NCAA violation to take the money… so that’s a reason right there to say “no.”

    There’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t add up, but not giving out your checking account number isn’t one of them.

  19. joeindc says: Jan 20, 2013 12:28 PM

    @manilovethepftcensors Just to nitpick, Manti is not a student at ND anymore. And if even if the whole damn thing was orchestrated by Notre Dame there is no “violation” to be penalized for.

  20. manilovethepftcensors says: Jan 20, 2013 12:48 PM

    Joe the NCAA has proven itself to be a pretty dictatorial organization and it wouldn’t surprise me if they came up with a way to penalize Notre Dame if it could prove they were purposely lying to the public, possibly for the purpose of helping his Heisman campaign. I’m not saying that I think this would happen but I wouldn’t put it past them.
    As far as him not being a student you absolutely are nitpicking me because he clearly was at the time they discovered the hoax and they continued with the facade after that point. If he graduated at the end of the previous semester then, yes, you are technically right that he hasn’t been a Notre Dame student for a couple of weeks but that’s completely irrelevant at this point.

  21. divingdancer says: Jan 20, 2013 6:14 PM

    Not surprised at all. Anyone who has followed the news for the last 20 years knows that Catholics ate not known for their investigation prowess, but they are pretty good at trying to bury the truth.

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