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Dr. Saturday

Manti Te’o story has no obvious criminal angle, it seems

Frank Schwab
Dr. Saturday

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(USA Today Sports Images)

One of the unique things about the incredibly weird Manti Te'o story is that it has generated a ton of interest, emotion and debate, even though nobody was physically hurt and nobody committed any crimes.

At least, nobody seems to be able to figure out if there was a crime to charge anyone for.

Nobody has been charged in this ordeal. Ronaiah Tuiasosopo has reportedly confessed to being behind the Lennay Kekua hoax, according ESPN via a friend who says she talked to Tuiasosopo and Te'o, who told ESPN that Tuiasosopo admitted the hoax to him. Te'o shared Twitter messages that he said were from Tuiasosopo.

Yet, there apparently isn't anything to charge anyone for.

[Related: "Saturday Night Live" skit pokes fun at Manti Te'o situation]

The Associated Press said no law enforcement agencies have indicated they are pursuing a criminal case. Bennett Kelly, founder of the Internet Law Center in Santa Monica, Calif., told the AP that a criminal fraud case would be difficult because the perpetrators took nothing of value from Te'o, such as money. A civil case would be difficult too.

"It's not as easy as it's often portrayed," Kelley told the AP. "The context has to be outrageous. There usually has to be some kind of physical manifestation. It can't just be that it was a bummer."

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick has said he would leave it to Te'o and his family if they wish to pursue legal action, but in an off-camera interview with ESPN, Te'o didn't sound like that is something he wants.

JEREMY SCHAAP: What do you want to see happen to Ronaiah Tuiasosopo?

MANTI TE'O: To be honest with you, it doesn't seem real. I hope he learns. 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.

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Related Manti Te'o coverage on Yahoo! Sports
Manti Te'o denies involvement in hoax
Dan Wetzel: What's not to believe about Teo's confession?
Money and notoriety fueled the hoax, Manti Te'o's uncle says

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