Ms. Letourneau, the daughter of a fiery conservative GOP congressman, was a married mother of four in 1996 when she taught 12-year-old Vili Fualaau in her class at Shorewood Elementary in Burien, a Seattle suburb.
Police discovered them about 1:20 a.m. on June 19, 1996, parked in a minivan at the Des Moines Marina.
Ms. Letourneau, then 34, initially told officers that the boy was 18, raising suspicions that something sexual was going on. At the police station, they claimed that Ms. Letourneau had been babysitting the boy and took him from her home after she and her husband had a fight.
About two months later, the evidence was undeniable: Ms. Letourneau was pregnant. They had a daughter — and then, later, another one, conceived in 1998, after Ms. Letourneau had pleaded guilty to child rape but before she began serving a 7½ -year prison term. (Her defense attorney said she had been diagnosed with a form of bipolar disorder.)
Ms. Letourneau and Fualaau married on May 20, 2005, in Woodinville, Wash., after her release.
Fualaau and Ms. Letourneau characterized their relationship as one of love at that point, even writing a 1998 book together — “Un Seul Crime, L’Amour,” or “Only One Crime, Love.” Their story became the subject of a USA Network movie, “All American Girl” (2000).
King County court records show Fualaau asked for a legal separation from Ms. Letourneau on May 9, 2017.
Fualaau’s mother filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit claiming the city and school district failed to protect her son from the teacher. But the defendants said the relationship was so bizarre that no one could have predicted it.
The school district’s lawyer said it began off school grounds, after the academic year had ended. City police argued that they simply had no evidence of sexual abuse until it was too late. A jury ruled against the family.
Mary Katherine Schmitz was born in Tustin, Calif., on Jan. 30, 1962. Her mother was a chemist. Her father, John G. Schmitz, was a California Republican state senator and congressman, and a former official with the ultraconservative John Birch Society.
John Schmitz represented Orange County in the U.S. House from June 1970 to January 1973. He won the 1972 presidential nomination of the American Independent Party, an organization started by segregationist Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace, and became known for incendiary remarks about women, minorities and political rivals. He quit politics in 1982 when it became public that his mistress was pregnant with his second child.
Mary Kay’s childhood was shadowed by tragedy; her younger brother, Phillip, drowned in a pool when he was 3 as she was playing with another brother at the other end.
She attended Arizona State University and left to marry Steve Letourneau, a fellow student. They eventually settled in the Seattle area, and she completed a bachelor’s degree from Seattle University in 1989. They divorced while she was in prison.
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