A FORMER teacher who was convicted of raping her then-12-year-old student before marrying him years later has died.
Mary Kay Letourneau died from cancer at the age of 58 on Tuesday, her ex-attorney confirmed to local news outlets in the US.
“It was expected but sad anyway,” lawyer David Gehrke told KOMO. “She was a good person.”
Letourneau was convicted in 1997 of raping Vili Fualaau, her sixth-grade student at a school in Seattle, Washington.
She was 34 at the time and a married mother to four kids when their relationship began.
It was Letourneau’s husband, Steve, who learned of their relationship after he found love letters between his wife and the teenager.
Steve Letourneau filed for divorce, received sole custody of their four kids, and moved to Alaska.
Letourneau gave birth to Fualaau’s daughter in May 1997, before pleading guilty to child rape months later.
The former teacher was initially sentenced to three months in prison as part of a plea deal — she said she’d no longer be in contact with Fualaau.
After she was released on parole for a month, Letourneau and Fualaau were caught together in a car — where authorities said they had “passports, money, and baby clothes.”
While on parole, Letourneau became pregnant with Fualaau’s second child before she was sent back to prison for more than seven years.
When she gave birth in October 1998, her former student was 15 years old.
After she was released from custody, Fualaau petitioned to allow them to see one another, which led to a restraining order against Letourneau to be dropped.
The former teacher, however, had to register as a sex offender in Washington.
Years later in May 2005, the two got married — after she served time for child rape.
Fualaau filed for separation from Letourneau in 2017, and they finalized their separation in August 2019, after reportedly trying to reconcile several times.
“They don’t hate each other,” a source told People at the time. “But they’re both looking forward to getting on with their lives and moving forward.”
Before their split, they were said to have slept in different rooms, as “the intimacy was gone.”
“That’s not to say they didn’t love each other, but it wasn’t what it used to be,” the source said. “For years, there was hope it would work. There was hope up until the time where it was clear that the hope had faded away.”
In 2018, Letourneau said during an A&E television special of her relationship: “Everybody wants to hear the story. Whether it’s because they want to analyse it or criticise it. It’s been 20 years but it’s still there.”
She claimed her relationship with Fualaau didn’t start until after the school year was over, saying that media reports at the time were inaccurate.
“The incident was a late night that it didn’t stop with a kiss. And I thought that it would and it didn’t,” she said. “I loved him very much, and I kind of thought, ‘Why can’t it ever just be a kiss?'”
During the special, Fualaau said he “wasn’t thinking” when the two became intimate while he was still a child.
“The age difference, all of that stuff wasn’t going through my mind. A lot of things that should have gone through my mind at the time, weren’t going through my mind.”
Letourneau later said she didn’t realise it was illegal to be sexual with a child when the ordeal unfolded.
“If someone had told me, if anyone had told me, there is a specific law that says this is a crime,” she said. “I did not know. I’ve said this over and over again.”
“Had I’d known, if anyone knows my personality. Just the idea, this would count as a crime.”