Mary Kay Letourneau: Every New Detail We Learned About Her Illicit Relationship From the A&E Documentary

While every relationship is different, to the outside world, some of them seem downright creepy. And while couples with big age differences aren’t all that uncommon these days, the illicit relationship between former teacher Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau has been the subject of fascination for decades, especially since the couple is likely still together (they legally separated in 2017, but allegedly still live together and are working on things).

As many people know, Vili was just 13 years old when he began an affair with Mary Kay, who was 34 at the time. The two met when he was a 12-year-old student of hers. And what followed was a very bizarre, and some say true, love story, new details of which were recently revealed on “Mary Kay Letourneau: Autobiography” on A&E’s Biography network.

Vili was not her student when the affair began

Mary Kay and Villi on their wedding day.

The relationship that shocked the world. | A&E

Although Mary Kay did teach Vili, she says nothing inappropriate happened while he was her student. She took him under her wing and encouraged a friendship with her oldest son, who was only a year younger than Vili at the time (Mary Kay and her first husband have four children together). But they both claim nothing sexual happened until Vili was 13 and out of her class.

“The make believe is that this was a teacher-student relationship, it never was,” Mary Kay said.

Next: It seems Mary Kay didn’t realize the severity of her actions at the time.

She didn’t know she could go to prison for what she was doing

Mary Kay Letourneau in her A&E interview.

Mary Kay Letourneau’s story made all sorts of media headlines.  | A&E

Although Mary Kay knew beginning an affair with Vili was morally wrong because she was still married, she didn’t realize the severity of it all at first.

“I was suspended and all of a sudden, it doesn’t look good for me,” she said, explaining what she was thinking after getting busted for the affair. “I’m married still, even though I was in a separation period, that’s really not OK. I didn’t imagine I would need an attorney. I didn’t imagine there were criminal consequences. I didn’t know that I needed an attorney, get it?”

Next: Most people were wondering how it ever happened in the first place.

This is how it really started

Villi and Mary Kay in a photograph.

He was considered way too young for her at the time. | A&E

When news first broke of this shocking affair back in 1997, everyone assumed Mary Kay preyed on her student, Vili. But both Vili and Mary Kay say that’s not how it happened. Not only was Vili no longer her student when they developed feelings for each other, but it was him, not her, that made the first move.

In the summer on 1996, the two were taking classes from the same community college, so they spent more time together. One day, after class, they went out to eat together. Afterwards, in Mary Kay’s car, Villi asked if he could kiss her. She accepted. Later that summer, when Mary Kay’s husband was out of town, the two slept together for the first time.

Next: Needless to say, Mary Kay’s husband was not thrilled when he found out.

 Mary Kay’s husband threatened Vili

Mary Kay and Villi smiling in a photo.

Their relationship was threatened by Mary Kay’s husband. | A&E

In February of 1997, Mary Kay and Vili’s relationship came to a halt when Mary Kay’s husband, Steve Letourneau, found love letters his wife had written to Vili. Steve demanded the two break off the affair, and angrily confronted Vili.

“He came to my house and confronted me about it and told me if I don’t want my mom knowing about this or anyone knowing about this, it was going to end,” Vili explained. “I was worried about everything, about Mary, myself and I said OK, I don’t want this to get out anywhere. The fear of my mom’s reaction and the thought of everyone being affected by it was one of my biggest fears, so I said, for the better of everyone, OK. It was kind of devastating.”

But it was too late. One of Steve’s relatives reported the affair to Mary Kay’s school, Shorewood Elementary, and Mary Kay soon realized she was pregnant with Vili’s child.

Next: Of course, the couple’s story didn’t end there. 

 Pregnancy, a baby, and jail

Mary Kay in court.

Their relationship was considered highly controversial. | A&E

By the time the affair made public news, Mary Kay was already pregnant with Vili’s child. In November 1997, she was sentenced to 89 months in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of child rape. She gave birth to the couple’s first daughter before she began her sentence.

Mary Kay was released after 80 days behind bars, on one condition: that she stayed away from Vili. But it wasn’t long before they were caught together in a car. She was arrested again, and soon it was revealed that she was pregnant again.

Next: We’ve never heard what it was like for Mary Kay to be pregnant in prison.

‘Mommy’s at the far away place’

Mary Kay's four children.

Her children were also affected by the scandal. | A&E

Once she was busted violating her parole, Mary Kay was forced to finish the duration of her sentence in prison. She gave birth to her second daughter with Vili while behind bars, and she wasn’t allowed to see any of her four children with Steven for six months.

“They said, what about prison, is it horrible? Of course, it’s supposed to be,” Mary Kay said. “It’s supposed to be a deprivation place. My children call it the far away place, ‘Mommy’s at the far away place.’ It’s not a good place to be for a woman. You really have to have the discipline to stay entirely healthy, but it’s a community in there. Inside those walls.”

Next: Mary Kay and Vili never did stop communicating.

They found ways to communicate while she was in prison

Villi in an interview.

Villi still believes in their relationship. | A&E

Mary Kay and Vili were forbidden from communicating while she was locked up, but they found secret ways to do it. She would send him coded messages on the bottles of breast milk she sent for their baby. And, although Vili was not physically faithful while the mother of his children was in jail, he said he never stopped thinking about her.

Mary Kay was released in 2004, and although she was still forbidden from seeing Vili, the couple got a judge to lift the order. The two were married in 2005 when Vili was 21.

Next: Mary Kay is still hoping their story has a happy ending. 

Mary Kay insists their love is real and she wants it to work

Villi and Mary Kay smiling while sitting on a couch.

They’re still trying to make it work.| A&E

Many people still view Mary Kay as a villain, and understandably so — she did leave her husband and four children to be with Villi. But during the documentary interviews, she repeatedly said she wasn’t sorry Villi was “the man of my life” and “the father of my children.”

One subject remained off limits during the interviews: The fact that the couple legally separated in 2017. But sources close to the couple say they are not only still living together, but actively working on their relationship.

“There is a labor in love,” Mary Kay said. “Anyone who’s making love work in a marriage knows it’s work.”

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