Mary Kay Letourneau
Mary Kay Letourneau
Mary Katherine Schmitz
January 30, 1962
Tustin, California, U.S.
|Died||July 6, 2020 (aged 58)|
Des Moines, Washington, U.S.
|Criminal charge(s)||Second-degree rape of a child|
(m. 1984; div. 1999)
|Relatives||John P. Schmitz (brother)|
Joseph E. Schmitz (brother)
Mary Katherine Letourneau (formerly Schmitz; January 30, 1962 – July 6, 2020) was an American schoolteacher who pled guilty in 1997 to two counts of felony second-degree rape of a child, Vili Fualaau, who was 12 or 13 at the time and had been her sixth-grade student. While awaiting sentencing, she gave birth to Fualaau's child. With the state seeking a six-and-a-half-year prison sentence, she reached a plea agreement calling for six months in jail, with three months suspended, and no contact with Fualaau for life among other terms. The case received national attention.
Shortly after spending three months in jail, the police caught Letourneau in a car with Fualaau. A judge revoked her plea agreement and reinstated the prison sentence for the maximum allowed by law of seven-and-a-half years. Eight months after returning to prison, she gave birth to Fualaau's second child, another daughter. She was imprisoned from 1998 to 2004. Letourneau and Fualaau were married in May 2005, and the marriage lasted 14 years until their separation in 2019.
Early life and education
Mary Katherine Schmitz was born in 1962 in Tustin, California, the daughter of Mary E. (née Suehr), a former chemist, and John G. Schmitz (1930–2001), a community college instructor and politician. She was known as Mary Kay to her family and called "Cake" by her father. She was the fourth of seven children, raised in a "strict Catholic household." When Letourneau was two years old, her father began a political career and successfully ran as a Republican for a seat in the state legislature. He held positions as a California state senator and U.S. Congressman, winning a special election for an unexpired term in 1970 and the general election later that year. After a primary defeat in 1972, he changed parties and ran for president as an American Party candidate in the 1972 U.S. presidential election. In 1973, Letourneau's three-year-old brother drowned in the family pool at their home in the Spyglass Hill section of Corona del Mar, California, while she played with another brother in the shallow end.
Letourneau attended Cornelia Connelly High School, an all-girls' Catholic school in Anaheim, California, where she was a member of the cheerleading squad for Servite High School. She later attended Arizona State University.
In 1978, her father was re-elected as a Republican to the California State Senate. He intended to run for the U.S. Senate in 1982, but his political career was permanently damaged that year when it was revealed that he had fathered two children out of wedlock during an affair with a mistress, a former student at Santa Ana College, where he had taught political science.:124 Her father's affair caused Letourneau's parents to separate, but they later reconciled.
Letourneau's brother John Schmitz was the deputy counsel to President George H. W. Bush. Her other brother, Joseph E. Schmitz, was Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Defense under President George W. Bush, as well as a senior executive with Academi, and is a foreign policy adviser to President Donald Trump.
While attending Arizona State University, Mary Schmitz met and married fellow student Steve Letourneau, and she conceived the first of four children with him. She later said that she was not in love with Steve and married him after being urged to do so by her parents. The couple moved to Anchorage, Alaska, where Steve found work as a baggage handler for Alaska Airlines. After a year in Alaska, her husband was transferred to Seattle, Washington, and Mary gave birth to their second child. She graduated from Seattle University in 1989 with a teaching degree. She began teaching second grade at Shorewood Elementary School in the Seattle suburb of Burien.
The Letourneaus' marriage reportedly suffered; they had financial problems and both parties engaged in extramarital affairs. Her attorney and former neighbor, David Gehrke, said that she was "emotionally and physically abused by her husband" during their marriage, and twice "went to the hospital for treatment, and police were called," although no charges were ever filed. While imprisoned for child rape in May 1999, she divorced her husband, and he gained custody of their four children. In 2010, the Letourneaus became grandparents when their oldest son had a daughter.
Crime, arrest and sentencing
Vili Fualaau (born June 26, 1983) was Letourneau's student in both his second-grade and sixth-grade classes at Shorewood Elementary. When Letourneau was 34, in the summer of 1996, her relationship with the 12 or 13-year-old Fualaau turned from platonic to sexual. On June 18, 1996, police came upon her in a car with Fualaau in a marina parking lot. She was seen jumping into the front seat while Fualaau pretended to sleep in the back. She and Fualaau provided false names when asked for identification and Letourneau lied about his age, saying that he was 18. Fualaau said that no touching had taken place. Letourneau said she and her husband had gotten into an argument, and that Fualaau, who she said was a family friend who had been staying with them that night, witnessed the argument and ran away upset. She said she left to find him. Letourneau and Fualaau were taken to the police station, where Fualaau's mother was called. The mother was asked what should be done, and said to return Fualaau to Letourneau. She later said that if the police had alerted her to the fact that Letourneau had lied about Fualaau's age and what had occurred in the car, she would not have allowed her son to go back to Letourneau. Letourneau was arrested on March 4, 1997, after a relative of her husband contacted the police.
Letourneau pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree child rape. Her first child with Fualaau, a daughter, was born on May 29, 1997, while she was awaiting sentencing. The state sought to sentence her to six-and-a-half years in prison. Through a plea agreement, her sentence was reduced to six months (three of which were suspended) in the county jail and three years of sex offender treatment. She was not required initially to register as a sex offender. As part of her plea agreement, Letourneau could not contact Fualaau or her five children, or have contact with any other minors. She became the subject of an international tabloid scandal, and experienced symptoms of degraded mental health according to acquaintances.
On February 3, 1998, two weeks after completing her jail sentence, Letourneau was found by police in a car with Fualaau near her home. Letourneau initially said she was alone in the car. She and Fualaau provided false names when asked for identification. Although it was reported that sexual intercourse had occurred in the car, Fualaau told a detective that he and Letourneau had kissed frequently and that he had touched Letourneau on the thigh, but that no sexual intercourse had occurred. There was evidence the two had met several times since Letourneau's release from jail on January 2. When she was arrested, police found $6,200 in cash, baby clothes, and her passport inside the car.:124–125 Receipts for $850 in purchases made since January 20 for men's and young men's clothing and infant wear were found. Letourneau said that the money was for dermatology treatments and for her divorce lawyer, and that some of the men's clothing were gifts for relatives and for herself since she enjoyed wearing oversized men's clothing.
In February 1998, the judge revoked Letourneau's prior plea agreement and reinstated the prison sentence of seven and a half years for violating the no-contact order. In interviews and in a book on her involvement with Fualaau, Letourneau said she had sex with Fualaau in January. Police said they had seen no evidence that sex had occurred in the car in February. Letourneau served her sentence in the Washington Corrections Center for Women.
While serving her second stint in jail, Letourneau gave birth to her second daughter by Fualaau on October 16, 1998. That year, Letourneau and Fualaau co-authored a book, which was published in France, called Only One Crime, Love (French: Un seul crime, l'amour). In 1999 a second book appeared, this one published in the United States, but written with only minimal cooperation from her, and none from Fualaau: If Loving You Is Wrong. During her imprisonment, Letourneau was allowed visits from her children but was denied permission to attend her father's funeral. While in prison Letourneau tutored fellow inmates, created audio books for blind readers, participated in the prison choir and "rarely missed Mass." Because of her notoriety, Letourneau was unpopular with other inmates; she "sassed guards and balked at work" and, reportedly as punishment for this, spent "18 of her first 24 months" in solitary confinement. In one instance, Letourneau served six months in solitary when letters she tried to send to Fualaau were intercepted.
In 2002, Fualaau's family sued the Highline School District and the city of Des Moines, Washington, for emotional suffering, lost wages, and the costs of rearing his two children, claiming the school and the Des Moines Police Department had failed to protect him from Letourneau. Following a ten-week trial, no damages were awarded. Attorney Anne Bremner represented the Des Moines Police Department. Her counterpart Michael Patterson represented the Highline School District.
Release from prison and marriage to Fualaau
Following Letourneau's release, Fualaau, then age 21, persuaded the court to reverse the no-contact order against her. Letourneau and Fualaau married on May 20, 2005, in the city of Woodinville, Washington, in a ceremony at the Columbia Winery. Exclusive access to the wedding was given to the television show Entertainment Tonight, and photographs were released through other media outlets. Letourneau said she planned to have another child and return to the teaching profession and indicated that by law she was permitted to teach at private schools and community colleges.
Attorney Anne Bremner, who met and befriended Letourneau in 2002 during Fualaau's civil suit, said that Letourneau considered her relationship with Fualaau to be "eternal and endless". According to Bremner, "Nothing could have kept the two of them apart." In a 2006 interview with NBC News, "[Letourneau] concede[d] she knew it would be wrong to let the relationship go any further, but she says as soon as the school year ended, she and Vili did cross that line." She said that "it did not cross her mind" at the time that having sex with Fualaau would be a crime. In a later interview, she stated, "If someone had told me, if anyone had told me, there is a specific law that says this is a crime, I did not know. I've said this over and over again. Had I'd known, if anyone knows my personality. Just the idea, this would count as a crime." The television series Barbara Walters Presents American Scandals covered the case in December 2015. Host Barbara Walters interviewed the couple about their relationship and their two daughters.
As of April 2018, Fualaau was working at a home improvement store and as a professional DJ and Letourneau was working as a legal assistant. An article in People quoted an insider source who said, "They know what everyone thinks about their relationship [...] And they don't care. They really never have. The wrong stuff that happened was so long ago. They are two grown adults who are living their lives now."
The couple finalized a legal separation in August 2019. Earlier in the marriage, Vili Fualaau said he was not a victim, and was unashamed of the relationship. According to People in May 2020, an unnamed source "close to Fualaau" said that "He sees things clearly now, and realizes that this wasn't a healthy relationship from the start."
In popular culture
- On March 30, 1998, Letourneau appeared holding her daughter on the cover of People.
- In 2001, the Court TV (now TruTV) television series Mugshots released an episode about Letourneau's case titled "Mary K. Letourneau and Vili Fualaau".
- On October 2, 2010, Paul Brittain and Abby Elliott portrayed Vili Fualaau and Mary Kay Letourneau in a "What Up with That" sketch on Saturday Night Live.
- "LE TOURNEAU [sic] CASE: Police check reports that teacher resumed sexual relations with boy". Kitsap Sun. Associated Press. February 8, 1998. Retrieved September 11, 2019.
- "MARY KAY LETOURNEAU: Teenage father can't wait to see newborn daughter". Kitsap Sun. Associated Press. October 19, 1998. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
- Wilson, Kimberly A.C. (March 18, 1999). "Letourneau May Be Transferred to Out-of-State Prison". Local. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved May 11, 2009.[permanent dead link]
- "Letourneau Marries Fualaau Amid Media Circus". Local. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. May 21, 2005. Retrieved May 11, 2009.
- "Mary Kay Letourneau's Separation from Viki Fualaau is Final, Says Source: 'Everything is Split Up'". Yahoo! Entertainment. August 22, 2019. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
- Helling, Steve (July 7, 2020). "Mary Kay Letourneau Dies of Cancer at the Age of 58". People. New York City. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
- "California Births, 1905–1995". Family Tree Legends Records Collection (Online database). Pearl Street Software. 2005. Retrieved May 11, 2009.
- Warrick, Pamela (April 29, 1998). "The Fall from Spyglass Hill". Los Angeles Times. p. 4. Retrieved October 22, 2009.
- "Mary Kay Letourneau's Father Dies". Local. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. January 12, 2001. Retrieved May 12, 2009.[permanent dead link]
- Noe, Denise. "The Politician's Family". Mary Kay Letourneau: The Romance that Was a Crime. Archived from the original on January 7, 2014 – via truTV.com Crime Library.
- Warrick, Pamela (April 29, 1998). "The Fall from Spyglass Hill". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California. pp. 1–4. Retrieved October 22, 2009.
- Bernstein, Adam (January 12, 2001). "Conservative GOP Congressman John G. Schmitz, 70, Dies". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: Washington Post Company. p. B7.
- Noe, Denise. "The Politician's Family". Mary Kay Letourneau: The Romance that Was a Crime – via TruTV.com Crime Library.
- Stadler, Matthew (June 1998). "Statutory Rape, A Love Story". Spin. Vol. 14 no. 6. San Francisco, California: SpinMedia. pp. 112–125.
- Noe, Denise. "Scandal of the Second Family". Mary Kay Letourneau: The Romance that Was a Crime. Archived from the original on January 7, 2014 – via TruTV.com Crime Library.
- "Donald Trump's Top Foreign Adviser, Joseph Schmitz, is a former Blackwater Executive". Democracy Now!. March 25, 2016.
- Ph.D, Steven Chermak; Ph.D, Frankie Y. Bailey (January 25, 2016). Crimes of the Centuries: Notorious Crimes, Criminals, and Criminal Trials in American History [3 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781610695947. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
- Noe, Denise. "Marrying Mr. Right Now". Mary Kay Letourneau: The Romance that Was a Crime. Archived from the original on January 7, 2014 – via TruTV.com Crime Library.
- Steven Chermak Ph, D.; Frankie, Y. Bailey PH D. (January 25, 2016). Crimes of the Centuries: Notorious Crimes, Criminals, and Criminal Trials in American History [3 volumes]: Notorious Crimes, Criminals, and Criminal Trials in American History. ISBN 9781610695947.
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- Hatcher, Candy (April 19, 2000). "Letourneau Can Profit from Story, Appeals Court Rules". Seattle Post-Intelligencer.[permanent dead link]
- Golgowski, Nina. "Mary Kay Letourneau, Vili Fualaau and kids tour New York as modern family: EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS". nydailynews.com.
- "Mary Kay Letourneau becomes a grandmother". inquisitr.com.
- "Mary Kay Letourneau Becomes Grandmother, Is Still Clueless". CafeMom. January 28, 2011.
- "Vili Fualaau". Biography.
- Gartner, Richard B. (1999). "Encoding Sexual Abuse as Sexual Initiation". Betrayed as Boys: Psychodynamic Treatment of Sexually Abused Men. New York: Guilford Press. p. 45. ISBN 978-1-57230-644-8. LCCN 98055694. OCLC 317520944. Retrieved May 12, 2009 – via Google Books.
- Skolnik, Sam; Ho, Vanessa (August 5, 2004). "Letourneau Registers as Sex Offender". Local. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved May 11, 2009.
- "Boy, mom file suit over him having sex with teacher". CNN. May 13, 2002. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
- Richard, Jerome (July 26, 2004). "Together Again?". People.
- Morales, Tatiana (August 3, 2004). "What's Next For LeTourneau?". The Early Show. CBS. Retrieved June 1, 2009.
- McAfee, Tierney (April 10, 2015). "Mary Kay Letourneau Reveals First Sexual Encounter with Vili Fualaau". PEOPLE.com. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
- "LeTourneau sentence upsets social workers". Kitsap Sun. Associated Press. November 16, 1997. Retrieved September 11, 2019.
- Stennis, Joe, Jr. (July 2006). "Equal Protection Dilemma: Why Male Adolescent Students Need Federal Protection from Adult Female Teachers Who Prey on Them". Journal of Law and Education. Vol. 35 no. 3. pp. 355+. Retrieved October 3, 2010 – via HeinOnline.
- Mankiewicz, Josh (June 2, 2006). "A love like no other". NBCNews.com. Retrieved August 15, 2019.
- "Teacher's lawyer warned groupies".
- "Report: Letourneau confused, impulsive".
- Noe, Denise. "The Deal Goes Dude". Mary K. Letourneau Facts of the Case. Archived from the original on April 21, 2012. Retrieved May 21, 2012 – via TruTV.com Crime Library.
- "PAROLE REVOKED, EX-TEACHER SENT TO PRISON IN TEEN SEX CASE". The Washington Post. February 7, 1998. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
- "No-contact order lifted for ex-teacher in teen sex case". Chicago Tribune. August 7, 2004. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
- Baker, KC (May 30, 2017). "Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau's Relationship Through the Years — from Prison to Marriage". People. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
In February 1998, after she was released from prison, police spotted Letourneau having sex with Fualaau in her car.
- "LeTourneau found in car with former student". Associated Press. February 4, 1998. Retrieved September 11, 2019 – via Kitsap Sun.
- "LE TOURNEAU CASE: Police check reports that teacher resumed sexual relations with boy". Kitsap Sun.
- "Inmate Search | Washington State Department of Corrections". www.doc.wa.gov. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
- "Letourneau gets out of prison - US news - Crime & courts". NBC News. Retrieved July 8, 2020.
- Bunn, Austin (January 27, 2000). "Prisoner of Love". Salon. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
- Olsen, Gregg (1999). If Loving You Is Wrong. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0312970129.[page needed]
- "Mary K. Letourneau's Father Dies: She Won't Get to Attend Funeral". Local. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. January 11, 2001. Retrieved May 12, 2009.[permanent dead link]
- "Mary Kay Letourneau: The Romance That was a Crime". Archived from the original on January 7, 2014.
- Johnson, Tracy (March 22, 2002). "Fualaau's Suit Says He Wasn't Protected from Letourneau". Local. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved May 11, 2009.
- Skolnik, Sam (May 21, 2002). "Schools, Police Absolved in Fualaau Case". Local. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved May 11, 2009.
- "Letourneau Now Allowed to See Former Student". Local. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. August 7, 2004. Retrieved May 11, 2009.
- "Letourneau and Fualaau, One Year Later". Dateline NBC. Los Angeles, California: NBCUniversal. June 2, 2006. Retrieved January 21, 2010.
- "Mary Kay Letourneau released from prison". USA Today. August 3, 2004. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
- Helling, Steve (September 25, 2018). "Mary Kay Letourneau Says She 'Did Not Know' Having Sex with Her 12-Year-Old Student Was a Crime". People. New York City. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
- "Mary Kay Letourneau: Forbidden Love | Barbara Walters Presents | Investigation Discovery GO". Investigation Discovery GO. December 21, 2015. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
- "Barbara Walters Presents American Scandals – Season 1 Episode 8: Mary Kay Letourneau: Forbidden Love". TVBuzer. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
- Sgueglia, Kristina (May 31, 2017). "Husband files for separation from former teacher Mary Kay Letourneau". CNN. Atlanta, Georgia: Turner Broadcasting Systems. Retrieved June 4, 2017.
- "Mary Kay Letourneau's Husband, Vili Fualaau, Arrested for DUI: Report". yahoo.com. March 30, 2018.
- "Mary Kay Letourneau 'Will Go to the Ends of the Earth' to Help Her Student-Turned-Husband: Source". PEOPLE.com.
- Helling, Steve (May 24, 2019). "Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau Will Legally Separate by August 1: 'This Is the End'". People. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
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- "What's Next For LeTourneau?". cbsnews.com. Archived from the original on November 4, 2013.
- "Vili Fualaau Saw 'Things Clearly' After Split from Mary Kay Letourneau: Source". People. May 8, 2020. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
- "Mary Kay Letourneau dies at 58". KHOU. July 7, 2020. Retrieved July 7, 2020.
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- "Watch Mary Kay Letourneau Sketches From SNL Played By Abby Elliott - NBC.com". NBC.
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- Letourneau, Mary Kay; Fualaau, Vili (1999). Un seul crime, l'amour [Only one crime, love] (in French). Paris: Robert Laffont. ISBN 2-221-08812-3.
- McElroy, W. (2004). "No panic over school child abuse". Commentary. The Independent Institute. (Request reprint).
- Olsen, Gregg (1999). If Loving You is Wrong. New York: St. Martins: True Crime. ISBN 978-1481049016.
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