Mary Kay Letourneau has passed away after battling cancer. The former grade school teacher made headlines in 1997 for having sex with her sixth grade pupil, and later having two children with him.
It was a story that made national headlines the mid 1990s, when Washington state elementary school teacher Mary Kay Letourneau was arrested and went to prison for having sex with her 6th grade student Vili Fualaau. Now she has died at the age of 58 after a battle with stage four colon cancer, her attorney tells TMZ. Despite their age gap and the tabloid notoriety around their relationship, Mary Kay and Vili married in 2005 after having two children together. “Mary was a client, a good friend, a wonderful mother, and a force of nature. She was brilliant and dedicated to her work and family. She overcame seemingly insurmountable odds with panache and humility. She will be dearly missed,” Mary Kay’s friend, Seattle WA lawyer, Anne Bremner tells HollywoodLife.com EXCLUSIVELY
Though the couple split in 2017, her lawyer David H. Gehrke told TMZ that Vili had been taking care of Mary Kay while she was in hospice care for the month prior to her July 7 passing. The then-married mother of four’s 1997 arrest and scandal with Vili came as one of the first major national cases of a teacher arrested for having sexual relations with a student. The couple ended up explaining their forbidden attraction to each other in a 2015 interview with Barbara Walters. We’ve got five things to know about Mary Kay.
1. Mary Kay was convicted of child rape after having sex with Vili. The sixth grader was 12-years-old at the time of their scandal, while Mary Kay was 34. Their relationship became sexual in the summer of 1996, after he was one of her sixth grade students at Shorewood Elementary School in Burien, WA. Mary Kay ended up pleading guilty to two counts of second degree child rape.
2. Mary Kay gave birth to their first child while awaiting sentencing in her case. The former teacher delivered their daughter Audrey in 1997.
3. Mary Kay had their second child in prison. In a plea agreement, Mary Kay got a six month county jail sentence, three months of which were suspended. But she was required to have no contact with Vili or any other minors. In Feb. 1998, she was caught in a car with Vili, just two weeks after being released from jail. Mary Kay was then sent to prison to serve out the original seven a half year sentence after breaking her plea agreement’s no contact order with Vili. She gave birth to their second daughter Georgia on October 16, 1998 while behind bars.
4. Mary Kay and Vili’s daughters were partially raised by his mom. Since Vili was still a teen and Mary Kay was in prison, his mom Soona took over the parenting duties of Audrey and Georgia. He told Barbara Walters in a 2015 interview that he “went through a really dark time.” Vili added that he battled depression and that, “I don’t feel like I had the right support or the right help behind me. From my family, from anyone in general. I mean, my friends couldn’t help me because they had no idea what it was like to be a parent, I mean, because we were all 14, 15.”
5. Mary Kay and Vili married in 2005. Sadly, they split in 2017. After Mary Kay completed her full prison term in Aug. 2004, the couple wed at a Washington state winery in front of over 200 guests. At the time, she was 43 while Vili was 22. They were married for 12 years until Vili filed for separation in 2017. Their divorce was finalized in 2019.