Mary Kay Letourneau, a former Seattle elementary school teacher who famously served time in prison after admitting to sexually assaulting her 12-year-old student, Vili Fualaau, died on July 6, 2020, KING 5 News reported. Letourneau was 58. After being convicted of child rape and doing jail time, she was sent back to prison after breaking her plea agreement to never see Fualaau again. She later married Fualaau.
KING 5 reporter Susannah Frame tweeted on Tuesday night that the former sixth-grade school teacher died of cancer.
Frame shared a photo of Letourneau and her longtime friend and attorney Anne Bremner. She tweeted, “Anne remembers her friend tonight as ‘one of the most alive people’ she’d ever known. She also said Letourneau was a dedicated mother of her two girls and ‘did everything right by them.’”
Letourneau is survived by her children, Steven Jr., Claire, Nicholas and Jacqueline, whom she had with her first husband, Steve Letourneau. She is also survived by her two daughters, Audrey and Georgia, from her relationship and marriage with Fualaau. The couple separated in 2017 and their divorce was finalized earlier this year.
According to The Los Angeles Times, Letourneau was babysitting her younger brother Phillip, 3, when he drowned in the pool at their Corona del Mar home. In 1998, Dr. Julia Moore, a psychiatrist who evaluated Letourneau and diagnosed her with manic depression, said, “There is no question that her brother’s death, combined with other traumas Mary Kay suffered later, contributed to the tragedy of her life today.”
Marcia Tinae wrote on her Facebook page, “Condolences to my nieces! Me and the kids love you guys Audrey Lokelani Fualaau – block all the noise and keep pushing okay. Love you always fam! Rest in love Mary Kate LeTourneau.”
Here’s what you need to know about the late Mary Kay Letourneau:
1. Letourneau Was Diagnosed With Stage 4 Colon Cancer
Letourneau’s longtime friend and lawyer David Gehrke told KOMO News that she passed away on Monday night after being sick for quite some time. “It was expected but sad anyways,” Gehrke said. “She was a good person.”
Gehrke told KING 5, that she had been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. According to TMZ, Letourneau had been in hospice care for the past month and despite their separation, Fualaau remained by her side.
2. Letourneau & Fualaau Married in 2005 After She Spent Over 7 Years in Prison
Letourneau was 34 and Fualaau was 12 when they first began their relationship. After she was released from prison in August 2004, Fualaau, then 21, petitioned the court and a judge lifted the order that barred contact between them. Letourneau had pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree child rape and served 7 1/2 years in prison.
Their highly controversial relationship remained in the media spotlight after the couple had two children together and later married. But in 2017, Fualaau filed for legal separation.
Gehrke said of his client, “She could try to contest it, but that’s legally tough to do. Perhaps if they want to figure out about the children and child support, but their kids are getting pretty old now.”
“When one person is unhappy in the relationship, the other person can’t be happy either,” he continued. “And there are two people in this relationship.”
In March 2020, a source told People of the finalized divorce, “Basically, what’s hers is hers, and what’s his is his. She has her assets and debts; he has his assets and debts. And going forward, any debt that each of them accrue is theirs alone. Everything is split up.”
3. Letourneau & Fualaau’s Daughters Attended School in the Same District Where She Once Taught
In an interview with Barbara Walters for her American Scandals TV series in 2015, the couple opened up about their then-teenage daughters. Letourneau said of Fualaau, “Probably why I looked so forward to getting married is because I already knew what kind of father he was … just knowing his personality and how invested he was in being a father.”
On having two children attending school in the same district in which she once taught, Letourneau said, “There was never a sit-down chat, ‘Now is the time we’re going to talk to our children about this.’ They seemed to already know … because they grew up with it. … There’s just never been a ‘Wow, we better explain.’”
4. Letourneau Remained in Contact With the Children She Had With Steve Letourneau After Her Scandal Rocked the Nation
After Steve Letourneau found letters between his wife and Fualaau in 1997, one of his relatives reported his wife to officials at Shorewood Elementary. As Letourneau was arrested and charged with statutory rape, her husband filed for divorce. He received sole custody of their four children and moved the family to Alaska.
However, Brad Abramson, executive producer on A&E’s two-hour documentary on the case, Mary Kay Letourneau: Autobiography, said she remained a devoted mother, wife and community member.
“She’s still in touch with her four older children from her first marriage. And they are a part of her life now,” Abramson said. “It’s pretty unimaginable … that 20 years later, you have her and her kids and Vili and her older kids all together as one extended family. It’s pretty remarkable what she has done.”
The Fualaau and Letourneau families released a joint statement on Tuesday:
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. 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.
5. A GoFundMe Account Was Set up for Letourneau’s Family With a Goal of $5,000
A GoFundMe account was set up for Letourneau and her family by a friend.
Gabriel Jones, who started the fundraiser, wrote on the page, “I’m setting this up for the purpose of helping their family during these times. I know they need the help or I wouldn’t be asking for others to pitch in. I also know that everyone has their own issues financially at this time but if you’re able to contribute anything — it will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.”