Former schoolteacher Mary Kay Letourneau - who gained international notoriety for raping a 12-year-old student and later marrying him – felt ‘deep remorse’ on her deathbed for sexually assaulting the preteen.
Letourneau began reflecting on the inappropriate relationship with Vili Fualaau after being diagnosed with terminal cancer last year, a friend claimed.
‘At the end of your life, you start reassessing a lot of things,’ the friend told People. ‘And she was trying to make her peace, not only with everyone else, but with herself.’
The friend told People that she received a letter from the disgraced teacher about a month-and-a-half before she died in July 2020.
Letourneau wrote dozens of letters while terminally-ill to atone for her actions, the outlet said.
Mary Kay Letourneau (above in 1997) was a sixth-grade teacher at Shorewood Elementary in 1996 when she was discovered to be having sexual relations Vili Fualaau, then 12
Before dying in July 2020, Letourneau wrote dozens of letters of apology to friends and family
The former Seattle middle school teacher died after a quiet nine-month battle with stage four colon cancer. She was 58.
‘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,’ said the friend.
‘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.’
Letourneau was 34 when she began having an affair with her 12-year-old student Fualaau. They married after she was released from prison for the rape, but separated in 2017
Letourneau was initially sentenced to three months in jail as part of a plea agreement in November 1997, in which she agreed to no longer have any contact with Fualaau
She broke down in court after she was ordered to prison for 7-1/2 years for defying the order
Letourneau made headlines around the world in 1997, when the then-34-year-old teacher and mother-of-four was found to be having an abusive sexual relationship with then 12-year-old and sixth grade student Vili Fualaau.
Although she might not have appreciated at the time, Letourneau realized during her final months that her actions were shameful, the friend said.
‘Absolutely nothing she did during that stage of her life should ever be emulated,’ the source said. ‘She understood that, more acutely at the end of her life. She felt deep remorse.’
Letourneau met Fualaau when he joined her second grade class in 1992, but they did not begin their sexual relationship until four years later when he was 12.
In 1996, after the school year had ended, the pair enrolled in summer classes at the same community college and began spending more time together.
Their relationship began with a kiss when the pair went on a dinner date after class
Letourneau gave birth to Fualaau's second child while in prison. The young father had still not yet turned 15
LeTourneau, then 34, is seen holding the couple's second child in this 1997 photo
One day after class, the pair went out for dinner. In a 2018 interview, Fualaau recalled that after the meal he asked to kiss Letourneau inside her car, which she accepted.
Letourneau then had sex with Fualaau first time later that summer, when her then-husband, Steve Letourneau, was out of town.
The true nature of their relationship was uncovered in February, 1997, when Steve Letourneau found love letters that the pair had penned to one another. He confronted Fualaau, demanding he end the relationship otherwise he'd inform his parents.
'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,' Fualaau explained in a 2018 interview. '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.'
However, one of Steve's relatives had already alerted school authorities about their relationship and Letourneau was arrested on statutory rape charges.
Shortly after, Steve filed for divorce.
The couple, who finalized their divorce in 2019, shared daughters Georgina and Audrey
He received full custody of their four children and moved the family to Alaska.
Letourneau was initially sentenced to three months in jail as part of a plea agreement in November 1997, in which she agreed to no longer have any contact with Fualaau.
She was pregnant with her former student's child at the time of her conviction.
Letourneau was then paroled in 1998.
However, shortly after her release from jail, she was once again found having sex in a car with Fualaau on February 3.
A judge then revoked Letourneau's prior plea agreement. She was ordered to serve seven years in prison on second-degree child rape charges for violating the no-contact order.
She gave birth to Fualaau's second child while in prison.
The young father had still not yet turned 15.
Upon her release from prison, Fualaau, who was by then an adult, petitioned in court for a judge to remove the no-contact order.
The restraining order against Letourneau was dropped, but the shamed teacher remained a registered sex offender in Washington state until her death.
Letourneau and Fualaau then once again shocked the world when tied the knot in 2005.
They remained married for 12 years, until Fualaau filed for divorce in 2017.
Despite several attempts to reconcile, the couple finalized their split in February 2019 and began living apart, according to King County court records.
Letourneau broke down in 2018 as she discussed the media fallout from the couple's relationship.
'The incident was a late night that it didn't stop with a kiss. And I thought that it would and it didn't,' said Letourneau. 'I loved him very much, and I kind of thought, “Why can't it ever just be a kiss?''’’
Fualaau, who also appeared, reflected on their relationship and said he 'wasn't thinking' when they started having sex when he was just 12 years old.
The couple are shown in 2005, the year they got married. Their divorce would be filed 14 years later but they remained close
'The age difference, all of that stuff wasn't going through my mind,' he said. 'A lot of things that should have gone through my mind at the time, weren't going through my mind.'
In a separate interview the same year, Letourneau claimed she had no idea it was illegal to enter a sexual relationship with a child at the time.
'If someone had told me, if anyone had told me, there is a specific law that says this is a crime,' she told Channel Seven's Sunday Night.
'I did not know. I've said this over and over again. Had I'd known, if anyone knows my personality. Just the idea, this would count as a crime.'
Letourneau is survived by the couple’s two daughters, Georgina and Audrey, as well as Steven Jr., Claire, Nicholas, and Jacqueline, whom she had with first husband, Steve Letourneau.