Classrooms have always buzzed with rumors of relationships between teachers and students, but for years it appeared school administrators quietly dimmed any case that came to light with resignations and tight-lipped excuses. If it seems like reported misconduct and convictions occur more frequently these days, the reason may involve one of the most bizarre and upsetting '90s scandals.
Mary Kay Letourneau was a schoolteacher in Burien, WA, when 12-year-old Vili Fualaau entered her Shorewood Elementary sixth-grade class in 1996. The artistic student reportedly suffered an abusive home life, and soon became close with Letourneau and her husband Steve, accompanying them and their four children on trips.
In June 1997, Letourneau and Fualaau began a sexual relationship and produced two daughters, capturing the public's attention and leading to jail time for the 34-year-old teacher. Twenty-four hour news stations and talk show hosts could not get enough of the story; Letourneau believed she found love with a child, and defied all common sense and court orders to stay with him.
After two prison sentences and a pair of children, the two married in 2005 before slowly fading from the limelight. All these years later, where is Mary Kay Letourneau and is she still with Fualaau? Was it love, lust, or mental illness bringing Letourneau and Fualaau together, despite the age difference and illegal nature of their relationship?
In 1982, Mary Kay Schmitz left Washington to attend Arizona State University. Her future husband, Steve Letourneau, was a football player at the college and the two began dating. In 1984, a pregnant Mary Kay married Steve, and the two returned to Washington, where she earned a teaching degree from Seattle University. She took a job with Shorewood Elementary in 1989.
Vili Fualaau became Mary Kay's student in 1991, when she taught second grade. By the time he was her student again in 1996, Mary Kay and husband Steve had four children together.
Some sources declared the Letourneau marriage appeared doomed from the start as it involved wedlock due to an unexpected pregnancy. Allegedly, there was also unaddressed infidelity on Steve's part, trouble staying afloat financially, and Mary Kay's emotional needs. She cared for her children while studying for her teaching license at night, possibly setting the stage for the scandal to come.
Vili Fualaau claimed he came from an abusive household where his mother Soona took out her frustrations on him and her other three children. The beatings were supposedly in direct correlation to Soona being attacked physically by her husband, Luaiva. Child Protective Services was a frequent visitor to the Fualaau home, but nothing came of the investigations.
When Mary Kay Letourneau and Fualaau met again in her sixth-grade class in 1996, she was 34 years old, and he was 12. The troubled Fualaau used art as a way to escape from his alleged maltreatment at home.
Letourneau began working with him to improve his artistic ability that year. She also invited him to spend time with her family; he reportedly grew close to her eldest son, Steve Jr. In addition, she purchased art supplies for the preteen, took him along on a family vacation to Alaska, and pushed him to excel in different areas of his life.
After the Letourneau's miscarriage in 1996 and reported marriage troubles, sources say Mary Kay Letourneau's mental state was poor. The same year, she began having sexual relations with 12-year-old Vili Fualaau.
Fualaau admitted the two frequently engaged in intercourse. Around August 1996, Letourneau and Fualaau conceived a child together.
In February 1997 - eight months after the start of their sexual relationship, and six months into Mary Kay Letourneau's pregnancy with Vili Fualaau's child - Letourneau's husband Steve found love letters between the two. One of Steve's relatives, aware of the correspondence, reported the affair to the Shorewood Elementary School district in March 1997.
Law enforcement arrested Letourneau and charged her for coerced sex with a minor. Two months later, she gave birth to the couple's first daughter, Audrey. Fualaau's mother, Soona, took custody of the baby while Letourneau faced prison time.