How did Mary Kay Letourneau die? Dark last days spent with ex-husband Vili Fualaau at her side
Formal school teacher Mary Kay Letourneau, who had made headlines around the world in 1997 for raping a 12-year-old student and later marrying him, said that she felt "deep remorse" for her actions, while on her death bed. Letourneau began reflecting upon her misdeeds, including her inappropriate relationship with Vili Fualaau, after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer last year. "At the end of your life, you start reassessing a lot of things," a source, who received a letter from Letourneau about six weeks before she died, said. "And she was trying to make her peace, not only with everyone else, but with herself."
"The bottom line was that she understood on a very deep level that she had really made a mess of her life and the lives of many other people back in 1996," the friend told People. "She realized that even though things turned out relatively good, that she was responsible for a wide swath of destruction by her actions. She apologized to a lot of people for a lot of things."
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In 1996, Letourneau was a sixth-grade teacher when she started sexually abusing Vili Fualaau, her then 12-year-old student. She became pregnant by Fualaau twice before he turned 15, even though the court had issued strict orders to keep them apart. She was ultimately sentenced to over seven years in prison for child rape.
Fualaau was an adult by the time Letourneau was released from prison. A restraining order against Letourneau was dropped when Fualaau petitioned the court to allow them to meet each other. However, until she died, Letourneau remained a registered sex offender in Washington state.
The couple got married in 2005, settled in Washington and raised their daughters together, despite the criminal history of their relationship. Years later, in 2017, Fualaau filed for legal separation. Letourneau was represented by David Gehrke at that time. A high-profile attorney, he knew the couple well and had been in touch with them for more than 20 years. "I'm not surprised that they got married," Gehrke told People in 2017, "and I'm not surprised, in this day and age, that they are separating."
Despite the split, the couple still lived together and were spotted at times in the Seattle area. Both of them remained very active in their daughters' lives. The source said that although they were married for so long and raised their daughters together, Letourneau understood towards the end of her life that her actions years back were immoral and illegal. "Absolutely nothing she did during that stage of her life should ever be emulated," says the source. "She understood that, more acutely at the end of her life. She felt deep remorse." Mary Kay Letourneau died on July 6, 2020.