Mary Kay Letourneau

Mary Kay Letourneau, Teacher Jailed for Raping Student, Dies at 58

Letourneau was a married mother of four having difficulties with her marriage in 1996 when Vili Fualaau was a precocious 12-year-old in Letourneau’s class at Shorewood Elementary in Burien, a south Seattle suburb

In this file photo, ABC News' Barbara Walters interviews Mary Kay Letourneau Fualaau and husband Vili Fualaau on the eve of their 10th anniversary, sharing intimate details about their headline-making marriage. The interview aired on "20/20" on the ABC Television Network.
Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images

Mary Kay Letourneau, a teacher who married her former sixth-grade student after she was convicted of raping him in a case that drew international headlines, has died of cancer, a family statement said. She was 58.

Letourneau was a married mother of four having difficulties with her marriage in 1996 when Vili Fualaau was a precocious 12-year-old in Letourneau’s class at Shorewood Elementary in Burien, a south Seattle suburb.

At about 1:20 a.m. on June 19, 1996, police discovered them in a minivan parked at the Des Moines Marina.

Letourneau, then 34, initially told officers the boy was 18, raising suspicions that something sexual was going on. But back at the police station, Fualaau and Letourneau denied there had been any “touching.” Instead, they said, Letourneau had been babysitting the boy and took him from her home after she and her husband had a fight.

About two months after the marina incident, Letourneau became pregnant with the couple’s first daughter. Their second child was conceived in 1998, after Letourneau had pleaded guilty to child rape and received a 7 1/2-year prison term.

Letourneau and Fualaau married on May 20, 2005, in Woodinville, Washington, after she finished serving time in prison.

Letourneau's son from her previous marriage, Steven Letourneau Jr., said in a statement with NBC News on behalf of the Fualaau and Letourneau families that Letourneau died six months after having been diagnosed with stage IV cancer.

"We are deeply saddened to share the very difficult news that our beloved Mary passed away peacefully on July 6th 2020 after a six month battle since being diagnosed with stage IV, or metastatic, cancer. Mary fought tirelessly against this terrible disease," the statement read.

"It is in that spirit that we ask for privacy and respect for our desire to focus on the road ahead for all of us who make up Mary's collective family. We ask that our boundaries and need for privacy be honored with continued kindness and understanding," the statement said

Fualaau and Letourneau had previously characterized their relationship as one of love, and even wrote a book together — “Un Seul Crime, L’Amour,” or “Only One Crime, Love.” Their story was also the subject of a USA Network movie, “All American Girl.”

King County court records show Fualaau asked the court for a legal separation from Letourneau on May 9, 2017.

Seattle attorney Anne Bremner befriended Letourneau in 2002, when she represented the Des Moines police department in a lawsuit brought by Fualaau’s mother, claiming the city and school district failed to protect him from the teacher. A jury found against the family in the civil action. Bremner visited Letourneau in prison and would meet her for lunch after her release.

“She accepted that it was a crime and that she had to serve her time, but when she got out she didn’t dwell,” Bremner said. “She moved forward in a very positive way and raised those girls. She was somebody I rooted for. I really wanted her to do well, and she did.”

In the civil trial following the multimillion-dollar lawsuit filed by Fualaau’s mother, the police department and school district insisted the romance was so bizarre that no one could have predicted it. The district’s lawyer said it began off school grounds after the academic year had ended. Police argued that they simply had no evidence of sexual abuse until it was too late.

Bremner said of Letourneau and Fualauu's relationship: “Everyone said it wouldn’t last, but it did, at least for 20 years.”

Associated Press/NBC
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