While the idea of a teenage boy being seduced by one of his teachers has powered teen-sex comedies and heavy metal songs, the fact of the matter is, it’s a sex crime. For many, this seems far easier to comprehend when the gender roles are reversed, but make no mistake, whatever the circumstances, it’s at best statutory rape.
One of the most shocking romances between a teacher and her student was that of Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau. Fualaau was just 12 years old when Letourneau began a sexual relationship with him in 1996.
Mary Katherine Schmitz, known to friends as Mary Kay, was born in 1962, the fourth of seven children in a prominent political family from Orange County, California. Her father, John G. Schmitz, was a conservative Republican Senator and Congressman who ran for president in 1972 as an independent. His political career was destroyed after it was revealed he fathered two children out of wedlock. Her brother John P. Schmitz was Deputy Counsel for President George H. W. Bush, while brother Joseph E. Schmitz served in George W. Bush’s administration and was a foreign policy advisor to President Donald Trump during his election campaign.
Mary Kay attended Arizona State University, where she met Steve Letourneau, described by the Los Angeles Times as “a big blond football player.” In 1985, while still undergraduates, she became pregnant and the couple soon married. They moved first to Anchorage, Alaska, where Steve got a job with Alaska Airlines, and later to Seattle, Washington. They would go on to have a total of four children together. Unfortunately, the Letourneaus' marriage was not a happy one. The couple allegedly had constant money troubles, and Steve was unfaithful to his wife.
In 1989, Mary Kay began teaching second grade at Shorewood Elementary School in Burien, Washington, a Seattle suburb. Among her students was Vili Fualaau, who was born in 1983. In 1995, Mary Kay was promoted and began teaching fifth and sixth grades. In her sixth grade class that year, once again, was Vili Fualaau. The two had become close over the school year, and at some point over the summer of 1996 they began having sex. Mary Kay was 34. Fualaau was 12.
In the fall of 1996, Mary Kay became pregnant with Fualaau's child. While she initially tried to hide it from her husband, he eventually found out. In late February of 1997, a cousin of Steve Letourneau reported the affair, and Mary Kay was arrested on statutory rape charges. She gave birth to a daughter, Audrey, in May 1997 while out on bail.
Mary Kay Letourneau pleaded guilty to two counts of child rape in July 1997 and was sentenced to six months in prison. As part of her plea deal, she agreed to undergo three years of sex offender treatment and break off all contact with Vili Fualaau. However, two weeks after being released on parole, police found Mary Kay and Fualaau having sex in her car.
''This case is not about a flawed system,'' Judge Linda Lau told Mary Kay, according to The New York Times. ''It is about an opportunity you foolishly squandered.'' She sentenced Mary Kay to seven and a half years in prison.
Later, Mary Kay found out she pregnant again. In October 1998, she gave birth behind bars to another girl, named Georgia, her second child by Vili Fualaau, who was raising the children with the help of his mother. While incarcerated, Mary Kay and Fualaau co-authored a book about their affair which was released in France, titled "Un seul crime, l'amour," which translates to "Only One Crime, Love." Their tale was also turned into a television movie for the USA Network, titled "All-American Girl: The Mary Kay Letourneau Story."
Fualaau had always insisted he was not a victim, and upon Mary Kay’s release in 2004, the 21-year-old successfully petitioned the court to have her no-contact order rescinded. The couple married on May 20, 2005. Mary Kay was 43 and Fualaa was 22. Given the media attention their wedding would generate, they agreed to grant exclusive rights to cover it to the television show "Entertainment Tonight."
Following her release from prison, Letourneau worked as a paralegal, while Fualaau was a DJ. In 2009, the couple hosted a “Hot For Teacher” night in a Seattle night club. In May of this year, The Associated Press reported that Vili Fualaau had filed for a separation from Mary Kay Letourneau. According to Vanity Fair, Fualaau said he only divorced Letourneau in order to pass a background test for a new business venture and that "everything is fine" between the couple.
[Photo: Getty Images]