Mary Kay Letourneau is one of the country’s most notorious ex-teachers. The former Seattle, Washington grade school teacher shocked the world in 1996, when it emerged that the 34-year-old married mother of four fell in love and carried on a sexual relationship with her former sixth grade student, Vili Fualaau, who was just 12 at the time. She was charged with, and pleaded guilty to, two counts of felony second-degree rape of a child and spent over six years in jail.
Letourneau, a teacher at Shorewood Elementary School in Burien, Washington was Vili Fualaau’s teacher in grade two, and again in grade six. She thought he was a gifted artist, and began helping him hone his skills. In the summer of ’96, though, their friendly relationship turned sexual in nature, and she became pregnant with his child.
Her husband, Steve, found a love letter she wrote to Fualaau and turned it over to police. She was arrested shortly thereafter. In May 1997, while out on bail, Mary Kay Letourneau gave birth to her first child with Fualaau, a daughter they named Audrey.
Mary Kay Letourneau was sentenced to 89 months in prison in November 1997, but she was paroled after just six months, and there were conditions to her release; she had to stay away from Vili Fualaau.
But she just couldn’t.
Within weeks, the lovestruck pair were caught having sex in the back of her car. She also became pregnant again. Having broken probation, Letourneau was sent back to prison for seven and a half years. In October 1998, while still in prison, she gave birth to their second daughter, Georgia.
After being released in 2004, the once forbidden relationship was no longer illicit. On May 20, 2005, Letourneau, then 42, married Fualaau, then 21, at the Columbia Winery in Woodinville, Washington.
While most are familiar with the salacious details of her on-again off-again relationship with her student-turned-husband, there are many details about Mary Kay Letourneau’s life you may not be familiar with.
Below are 15 interesting facts about Mary Kay Letourneau.
1. Mary Kay Letourneau Came from a Strict Catholic Family
Mary Kay Letourneau (née Schmitz) was raised in a conservative, Catholic home. She was born on January 30, 1962 to John Schmitz (a university professor) and Mary (a chemist).
The fourth of seven children, Mary Kay grew up in a strict Catholic home where both parents held very conservative beliefs. She was not allowed to engage in any kind of behavior the church considered to be sinful.
That is, of course, open to interpretation.
Mary Kay Letourneau went to Cornelia Connelly High School, an all-girls Catholic school in Anaheim, California. It was there that the pretty blonde really began to rebel against her upbringing, and discovered she liked parties, boys, and travelling.
Mary Kay Letourneau might have liked to party in high school, but by the time she got to Arizona State University, she reportedly evolved into a full-blown “party animal.”
2. Mary Kay’s Father Was a Well-Known, Ultra-Conservative Politician
When Mary Kay Letourneau was two years old, her father began a well publicized political career. The ultra-conservative Republican ran a successful campaign for a seat in the state legislature. After the easy victory, the family moved to Sacramento.
In 1970, John Schmitz won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, dragging the family to Washington, D.C. Many reports claim it was clearl Mary Kay was his favorite. He would take Mary Kay to Congress with him, and show off his blonde haired, bubbly, well-behaved little girl.
The conservative Schmitz was not known for being the model of self-restraint, and didn’t care if he hurt anyone’s feelings. He was known to say harsh things about homosexuals, Jews, and immigrants, to name a few. Even still, it was apparent that Mary Kay was his biggest fan, a definite “daddy’s girl” to say the least.
Mary Kay’s mother was also becoming increasingly political, and she became highly involved in conservative causes. She campaigned against the Equal Rights Amendment. And when the ERA was defeated, Mary Schmitz placed a cardboard tombstone for it on the family’s front lawn.
In 1972, John became the presidential candidate for the right-wing American Independent Party. No one expected him to win, but when the final numbers came in, a surprisingly one million Americans, or one percent of the popular vote, went to Schmitz.
3. Mary Kay’s Brother Drowned While She Was Looking after Him
On a warm August afternoon in 1973, when Mary Kay Letourneau was 11 years old, her family held a small party in their backyard in the Spyglass Hill area of Corona del Mar. Mary Kay was supposed to be watching her three-year old brother, Philip.
The fearless three-year-old took off his life jacket, and jumped into the deep end of the pool. Mary Kay was playing in the shallow end with her older brother, Jerry. Neither of them heard the tiny splash.
Only after her mother asked where Philip was did they find his lifeless body at the bottom of the pool.
When asked about his death, Mary Kay said it was an accident, and that no one was to blame. Those closest to Mary Kay said she thought her parents blamed her for Philip’s death.
Others believe the incident might have helped contribute to her forbidden love affair with Vili Fualaau.
“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,” said Dr. Julia Moore, a psychiatrist who evaluated Mary Kay Letourneau and diagnosed her with bipolar disorder.
4. Forbidden Love with Students Runs in the Family
The apple doesn’t fall far from the teacher’s desk. John Schmitz might have campaigned on strong family values, but he didn’t exactly practice what he preached. And it led to the death of his political career.
In 1978, John was once again elected as a Republican to the California State Senate. From there, he hoped to parlay his political popularity into a run for the U.S. Senate in 1982.
But it was not meant to be.
As it turned out, the suave, mustached David Niven look-alike (and champion of traditional family values) was secretly having a longtime affair with Carla Stuckle, a former student at Santa Ana College, where he once taught political science.
The affair began in 1973, around the same time Philip Schmitz drowned. Moreover, the secret couple ended up having two children together.
5. Mary Kay’s Half-Sister & Brother Disappeared into the System
Word of John Schmitz’s second family only came to light after Stuckle was suspected of abusing or neglecting their first child, John George. Child abuse investigators interviewed the tired and frazzled single mother in her home. Stuckle answered all of their questions, but they hit a wall when asking about who the children’s father was.
She was eventually persuaded.
“Until we find out and get this thing all done …you’re going to jail,” a detective told her. “Chances are you’ll never see your son again,” he added.
“It’s John Schmitz,” she confessed. “John Schmitz, the state senator.”
The detectives thought Stuckle was lying, but they had to cover their bases. At a John Birch Society meeting, a detective asked Schmitz if the child was his.
“Yes, he is,” Schmitz replied adding, “but I do not and will not support him financially. It is her responsibility to take care of him.”
The story made national headlines, and Schmitz’s political career was finished. Mary Schmitz’s career as a political commentator also came to a screeching halt. They separated briefly, but later got back together.
Mary Kay blamed her mother for being emotionally and physically cold, and driving her father into the arms of another woman.
Sadly, Stuckle died in 1994 from complications to diabetes. John George was 13 at the time, and his sister was 11. Mary Kay’s father did not want custody of his two children. So instead, famous psychic Jeanne Dixon (who was a good friend of Mary Schmitz), took them in. When Dixon died in 1997, the two children became wards of the state and disappeared into an orphanage.
6. Steve Letourneau Was “Mr. Right Now”
Mary Kay Schmitz was at Arizona State University when the scandal surrounding her father and Carla Stuckle broke. But, for the most part, she refused to obsess about the scandal. Instead, she had her own life to live, and continued her work on solidifying her college reputation as a party-animal.
Mary Kay Schmitz went on with her life and met Steve Letourneau one day at Arizona State University. The two hit it off hard and fast right from the start. As her friend Michelle recounted, “You know, there’s Mr. Right and Mr. Right Now. He was definitely Mr. Right Now.”
In 1985, when Mary Kay was 22 years of age, she became pregnant. Like her parents, she was opposed to abortion. But before she could tell her parents she was pregnant, and before she decided whether or not she wanted to marry Steve or be a single mother, she felt herself begin to bleed in class.
Mary Kay called her mother and asked her what she should do. She cautioned against getting any procedure, fearing it could hurt or destroy the unborn baby or babies. Also, because of their strong beliefs, they also told Mary Kay she should marry Steve Letourneau.
The idea was not a compelling one. Mary Kay did not think she was in love with Steve. While she liked to party with him, he was not particularly mature for his age. On top of that, Steve wasn’t as smart as she would have liked. On the other hand, he was willing to marry her.
The couple eventually decided to get married. They also both dropped out of school. Mary Kay Letourneau gave birth to their first child, Steven Jr., and the couple moved to Anchorage, Alaska, Steven’s hometown, where he got a job as a baggage handler for Alaska Airlines
7. Steven & Mary Kay Letourneau’s Marriage Was No Fairy Tale
The forced marriage between two (who evidently did not love each other) was fraught with troubles. The couple were always behind on their bills and in debt, with Mary Kay asking her parents to bail them out. Then, there was Steve’s infidelity. He had numerous affairs, and saw no need to hide them from his wife.
A year later, Steve was transferred to Seattle. Shortly thereafter, their second child, Mary Claire, was born. Two more children followed. While in Seattle, Mary Kay took care of their four children during the day and took classes at Seattle University in the evenings, working toward her teaching degree.
She graduated in 1989 and that fall, she secured a job teaching the second grade at the Shorewood Elementary School in Burien, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. It didn’t take long for students at the elementary school to take a liking to Mary Kay Letourneau, wanting to have her as their teacher.
She was smart, energetic, pretty, dressed nicely, and showed interest in each of her students. Before students left each day, “I made sure I gave them a choice of a high-five, handshake, or a hug. H.H.H. I did it every day with every student since my first second-grade class. It was a way of touching base, ensuring contact,” she said.
Her peers thought she was a good teacher but that she had issues disciplining her students. She did not want to set down classroom rules and her classes always seemed to be a little chaotic.
But not as chaotic as her home life. Mary Kay struggled to juggle her home and work life. She was chronically late for work; Steve apparently wanted their children kept up until he got home from work. This meant Mary Kay had less time to prepare lesson plans, unless she stayed up late, as well. This resulted in her being late for work and other appointments.
The stress took its toll on their marriage. The family continued to struggle financially, and it often led to fights. And Steve was no longer the only person stepping outside of the marriage to have their emotional and physical needs met.
8. Mary Kay Letourneau Allegedly Paid Special Attention to Gifted Students
As a teacher, Mary Kay Letourneau has been accused of paying special attention to the children she thought were gifted. One boy in her second grade class was particularly talented in art, and she went out of her way to encourage the budding Picasso.
That second grade artist was Vili Fualaau. He came from a troubled family; his father was in jail for armed robbery, and liked to brag that he fathered 18 children by 18 different women. Meanwhile, his mother, Soona Vili, worked in a bakery to support her family, who lived in an impoverished area of Des Moines, Washington called White Center.
In 1995, Mary Kay Letourneau, then 33 years of age, had a miscarriage. Later that year, she learned that her father had terminal cancer. Mary Kay turned to Steve for emotional support. He had none to give. Her father’s cancer went into remission, but Mary Kay never forgot how callously Steve rejected her when she needed him the most.
That same year, Mary Kay Letourneau received a promotion at Shorewood Elementary; she was assigned to teach both fifth and sixth grades. How good of a teacher was Mary Kay Letourneau? Her principal said, “Mary Letourneau is not only a gift to Shorewood Elementary School, but a gift to the entire Highline School District.”
Mary Kay Letourneau was familiar with at least one of her students. Vili Fualaau was 12 and would, as history shows, go on to become the teacher’s pet. Of that period in their lives, Steve Letourneau said, “I guess she saw the opportunity to kind of nurture him and I thought that was all it was.”
But it wasn’t. And others noticed it, too. By the time the school year ended in April 1996, other teachers were stunned at how close the student and teacher had become, with many even saying it appeared as though the two were always flirting with each other.
9. Letourneau Took Summer Classes with Fualaau
That summer, Fualaau was unofficially enrolled in summer school, and Letourneau was his mentor. The two spent more and more time together, taking classes at the Highline Community College, and at a Seattle art store. She even persuaded her husband to let Fualaau go with the family on a trip to Alaska. Fualaau was only one year younger than her oldest son, Steve Jr.
Steve Letourneau became increasingly upset that Fualaau and his brothers were spending so much time at their home. For Steve, their house and finances were such a mess that he thought Mary Kay should be focusing her attention on their own family.
That wouldn’t happen, though. Mary Kay was falling in love with Fualaau. Everyone saw him as a 13-year-old kid, but Mary Kay (then 34 with four kids) saw him as an adult in a boy’s body. “He dominated me in the most masculine way that any man, any leader, could do. I trusted him and believed in him and in our future.”
But many wonder; how emotionally mature was a 34-year-old woman who was being dominated by a 13-year old boy?
10. Emotional Relationship with Fualaau Started with a Kiss
Mary Kay Letourneau says she knew that Fualaau was attracted to her, but claimed she initially ignored his increasingly aggressive advances.
“One time he just came straight out and said ‘would you have an affair,'” she said. “I thought to myself ‘don’t look him in the eye, stay very busy.”
Finally, Fualaau apparently told Letourneau that he was in love with her. How did she respond? Letourneau explained, “I said, can you hold that for a long, long time?”
The relationship quickly evolved from emotional to physical.
In October 1996, Mary Kay Letourneau called her long-time friend Michele to tell her she was in love, telling her Fualaau was the most wonderful person in the world; her soul mate –the one person she’d been looking for her entire life.
They hadn’t had sex yet…but were considering it.
It didn’t take long for them to decide which direction their relationship should take. A few weeks later, Letourneau called Michele again to tell her she was pregnant, “and it’s not Steven’s,” she added.
The incident happened late one night, and it didn’t stop with a kiss. “I loved him very much, and I kind of thought, why can’t it ever be just a kiss?” Letourneau later confessed.
She wanted her husband to think he was the father, so she coerced him into having sex with her. But she knew that Steve would eventually figure it out. How? “Because it’s going to have black hair and dark skin,” Mary Kay told Michele.
Sure enough, Steve soon put two and two together. He swore his family to secrecy, but said he thought his wife was “pregnant by that 13-year-old.”
Steve then became violent toward Mary Kay, hitting her and punching her in the stomach to cause a miscarriage. That failing, he urged her to get an abortion. Even Mary Schmitz, a staunch pro-lifer, encouraged her to end the pregnancy.
On February 25, 1997, a cousin of Steve’s made an anonymous call to Child Protective Services and the Highline School District to report that Mary Kay Letourneau had sex with 13-year-old, Vili Fualaau.
Child Protective Services notified the police.
The next day, police questioned Fualaau, who was now in the seventh grade at Cascade Middle School. When asked if he was in a relationship with Mary Kay Letourneau, he said he was, and that they had sex. He downplayed the number of times they were physical because he was afraid they’d send her to prison for life.
That same day, a very pregnant Mary Kay Letourneau was arrested for statutory rape.
Like her father John, Mary Kay Letourneau was at the center of a sex scandal. Also like her father, she had sex with a former student. Unlike her father, the student she had sex with was a minor.
In May 1997, Mary Kay gave birth to her fifth child; her first with Fualaau. She named her Audrey Lokelani Fualaau, after her aunt. “Lokelani” is a Samoan name meaning “rose of heaven.”
11. Mary Kay Violated Parole & Was Sent Back to Prison
In November 1997, Mary Kay Letourneau was sentenced to 89 months in prison, but was paroled after just six months, on the condition she stay away from Vili. But the star-crossed lovers could not be kept apart.
Just weeks after being released, Letourneau and Fualaau were caught having sex in her car, and again, she became pregnant. Letourneau was forced back to prison and sentenced to an additional seven and a half years for violating her parole. While still behind bars, she gave birth to her second child with Fualaau in October 1998, a daughter they named Georgia.
Like Audrey, Georgia was raised by her grandmother Soona, and father, Vili.
In November 1999, the defiantly in love Mary Kay Letourneau was placed in solitary confinement for six months because she tried to send letters to Fualaau.
In January 2001, her father died of cancer. She asked to attend his funeral, but her request was denied.
12. Mary Kay Letourneau & Vili Fualaau Married in 2005
On May 20, 2005, not long after being released from prison, Mary Kay Letourneau, then 43, and Vili Fualaau, then 21, married at the Colombia Winery in the Seattle suburb of Woodinville.
While not exactly the wedding of the century, their nuptials did attract international attention. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, satellite trucks, waiting camera crews, and a news helicopter were all part of the spectacle.
The property was lined with media, but only ET was granted exclusive access to the wedding, with reporter Jann Carl and camera operators allowed inside.
Mary Kay Letourneau’s brother, Timmy walked her down the aisle. Her maid of honor was her teenage daughter Mary Clair Letourneau, and one of her bridesmaids included a woman she met in prison. Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau’s two daughters were the flower girls. At the time, Audrey was eight and Georgia was seven.
Mary Kay took Vili’s last name, becoming Mary Kay Fualaau.
13. Mary Kay Letourneau Doesn’t Believe She Stole Vili’s Childhood
Despite starting a relationship with her future husband when he was just 13, Mary Kay Letourneau does not believe she stole Vili Fualaau’s childhood. In 2015, the two of them sat down with Barbara Walters to talk about their 10-year marriage and relationship.
When asked if she thought she stole Fualaau’s childhood, Letourneau focused on her time in prison.
“The only benefit if there is any benefit that I was away, is that he had years to be without me and not in a relationship,” she said. “I think that even though we did start when he was a young teenager, I was gone for a while, so he had plenty of time to do his thing.”
Letourneau went on to say that Fualaau wasn’t faithful while she was in prison, and had his own sexual experiences.
14. Vili Fualaau Filed for Separation in May 2017
In May 2017, the same month in which they would have celebrated their 12th wedding anniversary, Vili Fualaau filed for legal separation. At the time, there was no word on why the couple were separating.
According to one report, the separation was a ruse and Vili was still madly in love with Mary Kay Letourneau.
“It’s not necessarily what you think,” Fualaau claimed adding, “Everything is fine between us.”
According to Fualaau, he filed to legally separate to protect his budding marijuana business.
“When you want to get licensed, they do background checks on both parties. If I decide to be a part of it, I have to be licensed, and I have to be vetted, and so does a spouse. She has a past. She has a history,” he said.
But all was not what it seemed. Speaking through his lawyer in 2017, Fualaau claimed he never gave an interview to Radar, and that he is going ahead with the separation. This was apparently despite Letourneau’s desire to reconcile.
15. Mary Kay Letourneau & Vili Fualaau’s Marriage Faced Many Hurdles
No one really knows why the couple filed for divorce, but reports allege that numerous issues put stress on the marriage. In addition to being in one of the most unconventional marriages in the U.S., Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau have reportedly been hit with money problems, unpaid bills, debt collections, and run-ins with the law.
In March 2016, Fualaau was hit with a judgement, forcing him to pay a collection agency a total of $1,421.87. That number continued to rise thanks to a 12% interest rate. The collection agency garnished 25% of his income from his paycheck.
Mary Kay Letourneau, meanwhile, was arrested and booked for driving her Mercedes Benz with a suspended license in the third degree in January 2013. She also failed to provide police with proof of insurance.
Her license was suspended for failing to appear in court, and a string of unpaid fines for speeding and other traffic violations. To be released from jail, she had to fork over $5,000 to a bail bondsmen, a princely sum for a low income family.
To make matters worse, in September 2013, a bench warrant was issued for Letourneau’s arrest after she failed to appear in court for a hearing. The warrant was recalled in January 2014 after she showed up.
Then, in February 2018, Vili Fualaau was arrested and charged with driving under the influence, after crashing his SUV into two cars. When police arrived on the scene of the crash in Burien, Washington, he had slurred speach, bloodshot eyes, and a “dazed, drunk-like expression.”
It is alleged that Fualaau’s blood alcohol content was 0.08 when he was stopped, and also had THC in his blood. He was able to post a $10,000 bond.
16. Mary Kay Letourneau & Vili Fualaau Still Live Together
Despite filing for separation, Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau are reportedly still living together in a four bedroom apartment in Des Moines, Washington. The pair claim the separation and pending divorce is not a sham, and that they need to live together because they cannot afford to live on their own.
To makes end meet, Fualaau reportedly works at a hardware in Seattle, and is a DJ on the side. Together, the couple have even hosted “Hot for Teacher” Nights in the past, at club where Fualaau spins. Mary Kay Letourneau has worked as a legal assistant in the past, but it is alleged that she is out of work at this time. Because of her status as a sex offender, she can no longer teach.