Teacher jailed, mar­ried for­mer 6th-grade stu­dent

Chicago Sun-Times - - NATION/WORLD -

SEAT­TLE — 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. She was 58.

Her lawyer David Gehrke told The As­so­ci­ated Press that Le­tourneau died Mon­day, not Tues­day as pre­vi­ously re­ported. Le­tourneau had been liv­ing in the Seat­tle sub­urb of Des Moines and died of ad­vanced colon can­cer, Gehrke said.

Le­tourneau was a mar­ried mother of four in 1996 when she taught 12-year-old Vili Fualaau in her class at Shore­wood El­e­men­tary in Burien, a south Seat­tle sub­urb.

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

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

About two months later, the ev­i­dence was un­de­ni­able: Le­tourneau was preg­nant. They had a daugh­ter — and then, later, an­other one, con­ceived in 1998, af­ter Le­tourneau had pleaded guilty to child rape but be­fore she be­gan serv­ing a 7½-year prison term.

Le­tourneau and Fualaau mar­ried on May 20, 2005, af­ter her re­lease.

Fualaau and Le­tourneau char­ac­ter­ized their re­la­tion­ship as one of love at that point, even writ­ing a book to­gether — “Un Seul Crime, L’Amour,” or “Only One Crime, Love.”

But it didn’t last a life­time: King County court records show Fualaau asked for a le­gal sep­a­ra­tion from Le­tourneau on May 9, 2017.

Seat­tle at­tor­ney Anne Brem­ner be­friended Le­tourneau, vis­it­ing her in prison and meet­ing 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.”

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

AP

Mary Kay Le­tourneau in 1998.

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