Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau may look like an ordinary couple after 10 years of marriage, but anyone who knows the story of their “courtship” would have a hard time looking at them the same. Fualaau was just 13 and Letourneau was 34 when they got together. He was in the sixth grade, and she was his teacher.
The Letourneau-Fualaau affair started when the two met in school. But not in the way we might hope. And Letourneau, then a married mother of four, chose to continue the affair, bearing two children from the teenager and eventually going to jail for him for seven and a half years. Amazingly they stayed together, and now, a decade later, are going to be on ABC April 10 to discuss their relationship and 10-year marriage.
“I don’t think there’s ever a full 10 good years of marriage. You have your ups and downs in marriage,” Fualaau, now 31, says in the interview with Barbara Walters. “But, you know, what matters is how you pull through all the bad times.”
It’s so easy to fall into a lull and believe every word they say, right? I mean, he’s right. Marriage is hard work, and they have made it now for almost 20 years, and he is an adult, and the two share two children. That is how I felt yesterday afternoon for a little while. Maybe their marriage really is the real deal. Maybe they had a love that really can last.
And then I remembered that he was 13 — 13. My own son will be 13 in six and a half short years. He is halfway there right now. In those six and a half years, he has gone from a helpless babe to a first-grader who loves handcuffs and wants to be a cop, but he is also still a baby for all intents and purposes. And I imagine in the same number of years I will still view him as such. He is my child. His sisters are also my children, and I love them fiercely. God help the predator who touches any of them. But I don’t distinguish between boys and girls in my life. I am their mom. And a 34-year-old preying on my child, whether male or female, is still a rapist.
It’s crazy to think we are supposed to forget what she did. We are supposed to somehow believe they were just two fools in love. Despite the fact that he was a child and she was an adult. Despite the fact that she was a married woman. Despite the fact that she had four children who must bear incredible shame because of what their mother did.
She did serve her time. That’s true. But she is a registered sex offender and will always be one. She brought a child from sixth grade to fatherhood. She ruined any chance he had of innocence and a normal adolescence full of dating and prom and college and marriage to a girl his own age. She forced him into an adult world no 13-year-old is ready for no matter how much the media makes us believe otherwise.
So let’s switch the roles. Let’s imagine Mary Kay is a married 34-year-old man and Vili his 13-year-old student. Let’s imagine that they got together, and all was the same. Would we say, “Aww, they were just two crazy kids in love. Let’s forgive them”? Or (and much more likely) would we say, “This is wrong. So very wrong”?
So why can’t we see it’s the same for a boy too?
I won’t be watching this interview. I won’t be celebrating that she ruined a childhood. She paid for her crime, and they married when he was free and clear to do so. But it was always wrong. It is still wrong. To smile and say “all is forgiven” seems ooky. If they want to live their lives, fine, but why do it publicly? Why put it in our faces? They are not heroes of marriage. She is a rapist. She will always be one.
Here is a video of them from 10 years ago: