Around the world, she’s known as the teacher who went to jail for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old school student, before later marrying him. But long before her relationship with Vili Fualaau began, Mary Kay Letourneau was known to many as simply a loving mother of four and a wife.
In 1996, 34-year-old Mary Kay was living with her husband, Steve Letourneau. They were raising Jacqueline, Mary Claire, Nicholas and Steven Jr together and living what Steve thought was an idyllic life.
What Steve couldn’t have known at the time, though, was that his college girlfriend turned wife was abusing a 12-year-old boy who was only a year and a half older than their eldest child. A boy who would later become Mary Kay’s second husband.
Finding love letters between his wife and her pre-teen student, Steve Letourneu’s marriage not only fell apart but also led to Mary Kay being found guilty of second-degree child rape after a relative reported the illegal relationship to police.
With his life shattered, Steve filed for divorce, got full custody of their four children, eventually remarried, had more children, and moved to Alaska. He stayed silent about what happened, but he moved on.
Mary Kay, on the other hand, went on to marry Vili less than one year after she was released from prison.
The pair, who had two daughters together when Vili was just a teenager, were married for almost 12 years until they ended their relationship in May 2017.
After a brief reconciliation, the pair finalised their divorce in August 2019.
On July 6, 2020, Mary Kay Letourneau died of cancer at 58 years old.
Although Steve Letourneu has remained quiet about his ex-wife, the Faulaau and Letourneau families released a joint statement following the news.
“We are deeply saddened to share the very difficult news that our beloved Mary passed away peacefully on July 6th 2020 after a six month battle since being diagnosed with stage IV, or metastatic, cancer. Mary fought tirelessly against this terrible disease. It is in that spirit that we ask for privacy and respect for our desire to focus on the road ahead for all of us who make up Mary’s collective family. We ask that our boundaries and need for privacy be honored with continued kindness and understanding,” the statement read.