Who Is Vili Fualaau?
Married teacher Mary Kay Letourneau took her student Vili Fualaau under her wing and encouraged his artistic talents. During the summer after his sixth-grade year, Fualaau celebrated his 13th birthday. Shortly after, he became sexually involved with Letourneau. When she became pregnant with Fualaau’s child, she went to prison, but the couple married upon her release and have two children. They separated
Born June 26, 1983, as one of four children born to Soona and Luaiva Fualaau, Fualaau first met Letourneau while he was in second grade. She later became his sixth-grade teacher at Shorewood Elementary School in Burien, Washington. A popular teacher and a married mother of four, Letourneau initially took Fualaau under her wing and encouraged his artistic talents. He spent time at her house and she encouraged a friendship between him and her oldest child, Steve, who was only a year younger than him.
According to some interviews, Fualaau has claimed to be the one that sought to change their friendship into a relationship. He thought about what he could do to win her over, telling Dateline television news magazine that "I remember I used to like plan the next day, like 'What I was gonna do, what was gonna say, what I was gonna like - what surprise I was gonna leave on her desk.'" Letourneau claimed that she saw him as more of a man than a young teenager.
Involvement With Letourneau
During the summer after sixth grade, Fualaau celebrated his 13th birthday. Shortly after, he became sexually involved with Letourneau. Both Fualaau and Letourneau were concerned with keeping the relationship a secret, however, Letourneau later said she did not understand that her involvement with the minor was legally considered rape. The police did catch them together in her van once, parked at a local marina at night. They questioned Fualaau and Letourneau, who both denied any wrongdoing. The officers also called Fualaau's mother who said that it was okay for him to be there with her.
Fatherhood at 14
In 1997, Letourneau became pregnant with Fualaau's child. Her husband learned about her relationship with Fualaau, and one of his family members tipped off the authorities. Soon after, Letourneau was arrested on statutory rape charges. She gave birth to daughter Audrey that May, making Fualaau a father for the first time at age 14. Fualaau's mother received temporary custody of the child.
At first, Fualaau kept his identity hidden during the legal proceedings against Letourneau. He still gave comments to the press, explaining to Washington TV station KIRO that Letourneau's pregnancy was no accident. "We made a plan. The only way to keep us together was to have a baby, so that baby would remind me of her," he told a reporter. The family later sued the station for invasion of privacy.
Incarceration for Letourneau
Letourneau later pled guilty to two counts of child rape and was given a sentence of six months to seven years in prison. Released into a sex offender treatment program after six months, Letourneau refused to stay away from Fualaau, despite a court order. The two were soon caught together by police in her car, and Letourneau went back to jail for the rest of her sentence in 1998. During their brief time together, Letourneau became pregnant with their second child. Their daughter Georgia was born while Letourneau served her sentence. Once again, Fualaau's mother stepped in to care for the couple's newest child.
That same year, Fualaau went public by selling his story to television and news outlets. He and Letourneau tried to explain their unusual relationship in the 1999 book Un suel crime, l'amour (Only One Crime, Love), which was published in France. Going through a difficult time, Fualaau struggled with the notoriety surrounding the case. He did a lot of partying for a time, and dropped out of school.
In 2002, Fualaau and his family sued the school district and the police for failing to stop the relationship. He claimed to be suffering emotionally as a result of his relationship with Letourneau, and said he was no longer in love with the mother of his children. Apparently the jury did not believe him; they were in favor of the defendants.
Soon after Letourneau's release from prison in 2004, Fualaau, then 21 years old, had the restraining order against Letourneau lifted. He and Letourneau soon got engaged. In May 2005, the couple married at a winery in Woodinville, Washington. They sold their wedding video to the press.
Eventually reunited with their children, Fualaau and Letourneau established a home in a suburb of Seattle, Washington. He has been working as a DJ in recent years, and the couple hosted a series of "Hot for Teacher" nights at a local club in 2009.
Fualaau and Letourneau celebrated their 10-year wedding anniversary in 2015, with famed interviewer Barbara Walters talking to the couple on an episode of 20/20. Letourneau later shared more details about their relationship with A&E in the two-hour documentary Mary Kay Letourneau: Autobiography, which aired in late May 2018.
In May 2017 Fualaau legally separated from Letourneau, but according to an interview he allegedly gave Radar Online, it was a financial decision made by the couple due to his desire to start a marijuana business.
“It’s not necessarily what you think,” he told the magazine about the separation filing. “When you want to get licensed, they do background checks on both parties. If I decide to be a part of it, I have to be licensed, and I have to be vetted, and so does a spouse. She has a past. She has a history.”
However, in August 2017, speaking through his lawyer, Fualaau claimed that he never gave an interview to Radar and that he was proceeding with the separation, despite Letourneau's desire for reconciliation, as revealed in court documents.
In February 2018, Fualaau was arrested for drunk driving and subsequently hit two cars in Burian, Washington. When the police arrived, he was allegedly disoriented and slurring his speech. Reports claims Letourneau arrived at the scene of the accident and told Fualaau not to take a sobriety test without their lawyer being present.
Death of Letourneau
Letourneau passed away from cancer on July 6, 2020. Despite their differences, Fualaau was by her side. "Vili moved back from California, gave up his life there, and for the last two months of Mary’s life he stood by her 24/7 taking care of her," Letourneau's attorney David Gehrke said. "So yes, they were divorced and they had their spats, but they were always in love with each other."
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