SEATTLE – The teacher whose seduction of a sixth-grader launched a thousand tabloid covers gets out of prison today.
Mary Kay Letourneau was scheduled to be released today from the women’s state prison near Gig Harbor after serving a seven-year sentence for child rape.
State Department of Corrections officials divulged no details about the notorious sex offender’s release. And Letourneau, 42, was silent about whether she plans to reunite with her former pupil, Vili Fualaau, now 21, with whom she has two children.
“I’m not allowing myself to think about being with him,” Letourneau told Seattle’s KOMO-TV. “We had a beautiful relationship, and I value it for what it was.”
Letourneau won’t be able to stay away from Fualaau, predicted Gregg Olsen, who wrote a book about the scandal, “If Loving You Is Wrong.”
“She has a personal need to get back together with him to prove to the world this is a love story and not a crime story,” Olsen said. “Part of Mary Letourneau will never let go of this love.”
Letourneau was a 34-year-old elementary school teacher in suburban Des Moines and an unhappily married mother of four in 1996, when her friendship with the then-12-year-old Fualaau mutated into flirtation and then sex. Their passion raged out of control, Fualaau testified in a 2002 civil trial: “We had sex in the gym, we had sex in the girl’s bathroom and we had sex in her classroom.”
When Letourneau was arrested in 1997, she was already pregnant with Fualaau’s daughter. What she called true love, state law clearly called a crime. A judge sentenced her to six months in jail for second-degree child rape, and ordered her to stay away from Fualaau.
But the temptation proved too much for her to resist. A month after Letourneau was released, she was caught having sex with Fualaau in her car. She was sent to prison for 71/2 years, and gave birth to Fualaau’s second daughter behind bars.
“I don’t know what my feelings are right now,” Fualauu told Seattle television station KING on Tuesday, acknowledging he was “kind of nervous.”
“But I know that I do love her.”
“Nothing could have kept the two of them apart,” Seattle attorney Anne Bremner said. Bremner struck up a friendship with Letourneau in 2002, while defending Des Moines police against a civil lawsuit filed by Fualaau and his mother, alleging the police and the school district failed to protect him. A jury rejected their claims.
Letourneau, who sang in the choir and recorded books-on-tape for the blind while in prison, wants to try to build a normal life, Bremner said.
“She wants to be a mother, she wants to be a responsible member of society,” said Bremner, who spoke with Letourneau by phone recently.
A skilled writer, Letourneau may want to tell her own story, Olsen said. A state appeals court ruled in 2000 that Letourneau may sell and profit from her story. She has also expressed interest in working for a group that advocates for the rights of mothers in prison.
“Mary loves the spotlight,” Olsen said.
As a condition of her release, Letourneau can’t contact Fualaau, who lives in the Seattle area. He could ask a judge to dissolve that no-contact order, but as of Tuesday the King County Superior Court hadn’t received any such request.
Fualaau told People magazine recently that he’d like to reunite with Letourneau, but wants to take things slowly. He is unemployed and told the magazine he is working on his GED. His mother is raising their children.
Bremner said Letourneau plans to abide by the law. But she clearly still feels for Fualaau.
“She’s always said this love is eternal and endless, and I think she stands by that,” Bremner said.
Letourneau told KOMO-TV: “Knowing what we had, I should have waited. At the time, I felt bad about the relationship because I was still married.”
Letourneau’s two daughters with Fualaau are now 6 and 7. They visited her in prison about twice a month. Her four older children live in Alaska with her ex-husband, and visited a few times a year.