SEATTLE (AP) – Mary Kay Letourneau, a teacher who married her former sixth-grade student after she was convicted of raping him in a case that made international news, died. She was 58 years old.
His lawyer David Gehrke told multiple media outlets that Letourneau died of cancer Tuesday. He did not immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press.
Letourneau was a married mother of four who struggled with her marriage in 1996 when Vili Fualaau was a precocious 12-year-old girl in Letourneau’s class at Shorewood Elementary in Burien, a southern suburb of Seattle.
At around 1:20 a.m. on June 19, 1996, police discovered them in a minivan parked at the Des Moines Marina.
Letourneau, who was 34 at the time, initially told officers that the boy was 18, raising suspicions that something sexual was happening. But back at the police station, Fualaau and Letourneau denied that there had been “contact.” Instead, they said, Letourneau had been taking care of 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 pleaded guilty to rape and received a 7 1/2 year prison sentence.
Letourneau and Fualaau were married on May 20, 2005, in Woodinville, Washington, after she finished spending time in prison.
Fualaau and Letourneau had previously characterized their relationship as one of love, and they even wrote a book together: “Un Seul Crime, L’Amour” or “Only One Crime, Love.” Her story was also the subject of a USA Network movie, “All American Girl.”
King County court records show that Fualaau petitioned the court for a legal separation from Letourneau on May 9, 2017.
Seattle attorney Anne Bremner became friends with Letourneau in 2002, when she represented the Des Moines Police Department in a lawsuit filed by Fualaau’s mother, alleging that the city and the school district did not 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 his release.
“She accepted that it was a crime and that she had to serve her sentence, but when she came out she didn’t stop,” Bremner said. “She moved forward in a very positive way and raised those girls. She was someone I supported. She really wanted it to go well, and she did it. “
In the civil trial that followed the multi-million dollar lawsuit filed by Fualaau’s mother, the police department and the school district insisted that the romance was so bizarre that no one could have predicted it. The district attorney said it started outside of school after the academic year ended. Police argued that they simply had no evidence of sexual abuse until it was too late.
Bremner said of the Letourneau-Fualauu relationship: “Everyone said it wouldn’t last, but it did, at least for 20 years.”