Mary Kay Letourneau insists she didn’t know sex with 12-year-old was illegal

By @chelean on
Vili Fualaau and Mary Kay Letourneau in their interview with Seven Network's "Sunday Night"
Vili Fualaau and Mary Kay Letourneau in their interview with Seven Network's "Sunday Night" Seven Network

Mary Kay Letourneau did not know having a sexual relationship with her 12-year-old student was a crime. The American school teacher has insisted that she had no idea it was illegal to rape her then-preteen student Vili Fualaau.

Letourneau gained international notoriety when it was revealed that she had an affair with Fualaau, who was then only 12 years old. She was 34 and married with four kids when she began their relationship in 1996.

In an interview Seven’s “Sunday Night,” Letourneau, who is now 56, has claimed she had not known that it was not legal to have a relationship with an underage kid.

“If someone had tome me, if anyone had told me, there is a specific law that says this is a crime,” she said as host Matt Doran tried to interrupt. “Did Mary know. Would Mary have known? … I did not know. I’ve said this over and over again. Had I known, if anyone knows my personality, just the idea, that this would count as a crime.”

When asked if she thought she was wrongly imprisoned, she replied, “Absolutely.” She said she felt she was coerced into agreeing that she had to go to prison.

She also stubbornly insisted that although Fualaau was only 13, he was the “boss” in their relationship. Fualaau, for his part, looked uncomfortable as his wife tried to make him admit that he had the upper hand in their relationship from the start.

Fualaau has admitted to Doran that perhaps they had waited before they began their relationship. And if the situation had been reversed, Fualaau, who is now 35, couldn’t see himself dating a 13-year-old girl.

He said his advice to his 13-year-old self on entering a relationship with an adult woman would be: "Don't do it."

Her lawyer, David Gehrke, recalled that Letourneau’s argument about raping a boy was that they were in love. She told Gehrke that she did not make the boy do anything against his will.

“’If anything, he was pushing for it. We were in love. How could it be a crime?’ And I had to repeat many times and in different ways why it was a crime,” Gehrke narrated how Letourneau defended herself.

Letourneau was imprisoned twice. She first pleaded guilt to second-degree child rape and had been sentenced to six months in jail, with three years of sex offender treatment. She was not required to register as a sex offender then as long as she would comply with the terms of her plea agreement, one of which was to avoid any further contact with Fualaau.

But just a couple of weeks after she completed her jail sentence, she was found having sex with Fualaau in her car. She was arrested and sentenced to seven and a half years in prison.

She gave birth to her and Fualaau’s first child while awaiting the conclusion of her trial in 1997, and their second daughter while she was in prison. Following her release in 2004, Fualaau, who was 21 at that time, requested a reversal of the no-contact order against Letourneau. This was granted. They married in 2005 and now have two adult daughters.

Letourneau now works as a legal clerk at the same courthouse where she was sentenced more than two decades ago. She hopes to be removed from the sex offenders’ registry someday.