She was at the center of a scandal that inspired books, TV movies, and countless hours of heated discussion.
But in a revealing new interview, disgraced teacher Mary Kay Letourneau says she had no idea her relationship with a student could get her in trouble.
And you may be surprised to learn that Letourneau and her former student, Vili Fualaau, are still together to this day.
"I did not know. I've said this over and over again."
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Mary Kay Letourneau, 1996. School teacher Letourneau shocked the nation when news came out that she was engaging in an illicit love affair with her 13-year-old former student. They had two children together, and eventually married. What do you think about their relationship? . . . #MaryKayLetourneau #ViliFualaau #Teacher #Student #LetourneauBio #MaryandVili #Relationship #Biography
When the sordid details of Letourneau and Fualaau's tryst broke in 1995, she was 34 and he was only 12 years old. Letourneau was also married, with four children of her own.
Today, the couple are 56 and 35 respectively, and their relationship is still going strong.
That's in spite of Letourneau's jail sentence for second-degree rape of a child, and a plea bargain that included a ban for life from contacting Fualaau.
Letourneau violated that ban while on parole - police caught her having sex with Fualaau in a car - and was sent back to serve out her full prison sentence.
But after being released when Fualaau was 18, a judge rescinded their no-contact order and the couple have lived together ever since.
It's a "love story" that raises plenty of questions about Letourneau's judgement, but in a new interview she claims she had no idea it was illegal to date a student, and insists he was "the boss" in their relationship.
"I did not know. I've said this over and over again," Letourneau said. "Had I'd known, if anyone knows my personality. Just the idea, this would count as a crime."
In another bizarre exchange, Letourneau was asked if she was wrongly imprisoned and replied "absolutely."
"He did say he was in love with me,” she said. “Flaw me, I did the best I could."
Despite pleading ignorance, in her TV special Autobiography, Letourneau said it was unbelievable that other teachers would say the same thing after her case became a national obsession.
"It’s just [unbelievable] that any teacher, after what happened to me, would [have sex with a student]," she said.
"At least I can say that I did not know that it was a law and you knew. After my case, you knew."
"Anyone that's married knows that it's a labor in love."
After being released from jail, Letourneau quickly reunited with Fualaau and the pair married in 2005.
The couple even have two children of their own, born in the midst of Letourneau's case and raised by her mother until she was released from prison.
Audrey, 21, was born after Letourneau’s arrest (when Fualaau was only 13), while Georgia, 19, was born while Letourneau was in prison - after she violated a parole order to stay away from Fualaau.
While they normally avoid the spotlight, Letourneau's daughters spoke for the first time about their unusual upbringing in the new interview:
"It doesn't feel different because it wasn't brought to our attention. We grew up with it, so we adapted," said Audrey.
Georgia said having a father so close to their age made him more like a “friend dad” than a typical father.
While Fualaau filed to separate from Letourneau last year, the couple said they had reunited in the interview.
"Anyone that's married knows that it's a labor in love," said Letourneau.
Today, the disgraced teacher works as a paralegal at the same court where she was once sent to prison. She also hopes her newfound legal skills will help get her removed from the sex offenders registry one day.