The forbidden love story of Mary Kay Letourneau and her student-turned-husband Vili Fualaau was tumultuous, to say the least. Their romance began in 1996 when Fualaau was only 12, turning 13, while Letourneau was 34.
Ultimately, Letourneau served a seven-year prison sentence for her sexual relationship with her sixth-grade pupil. At the time of their affair, Letourneau was married to her first husband, Steve Letourneau. The teacher and her former student eventually went back to each other and tied the knot in 2005, once their romance was finally legal.
Letourneau’s relationship with Fualaau “was never a love story,” Letourneau’s former BFF Michelle Lobdell exclusively told In Touch in August 2022, noting that the former teacher “created a story.”
“It was a tragic fantasy of a woman who was broken and unloved trying to find the love and fulfillment that she had never had in her life,” Lobdell said. “Not from her parents, not from her family, not from, from anybody and obviously a friendship with another person, me, wasn’t capable of filling that role either.”
Lobdell added that Letourneau “wanted to believe” her relationship with Fualaau was a “magical love story.”
“It doesn’t matter what [happened], if she [hated] his guts, she [would] still claim he [was] the love of her life,” she continued, adding that her friend “groomed” Fualaau. “She desperately needed the fantasy of this love affair to be true.”
Shortly after Letourneau and Fualaau’s divorce, the former teacher was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic cancer in February 2020. She died five months later on July 6 at the age of 58.
“Mary fought tirelessly against this terrible disease,” the Letourneau and Fualaau families said in a joint statement. “Mary, and all of us, found great strength in having our immediate and extended family members together to join her in this arduous struggle. We did our very best to care for Mary and one another as we kept her close and stayed close together.”
Although Letourneau and Fualaau’s relationship came to a tragic ending, she defended their relationship during her life.
“Everybody wants to hear the story. Whether it’s because they want to analyze it or criticize it. It’s been 20 years, but it’s still there,” she said in an interview with A&E in 2018. “It’s not how it’s portrayed, sixth grade, in the media. When anything developed in our relationship, he was entering the eighth grade age-wise. Sounds young, I get it.”
Keep scrolling for Letourneau and Fualaau’s relationship timeline.