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Wednesday, August 04, 2004  

News: Female rapist released from prison

Perhaps, when it comes to sex, I am slow. Very slow. Or maybe I am just not romantic enough. I have reason to wonder after learning one of the most notorious criminals in the Pacific Northwest was released from prison today. Nearly a decade ago, the saga of Mary Kay Letourneau began. She was an elementary school teacher, unhappily married and the mother of four children. She initiated a sexual relationship with a student. She had known the child, the son of Samoan immigrants, since he was in her second-grade class. The relationship would result in the birth of two children and two prison sentences for Letourneau.

ABC News has the story.

GIG HARBOR, Wash. Aug. 4, 2004 -- Mary Kay Letourneau, the one-time grade school teacher who served 7 1/2 years in prison for having sex with her sixth-grade pupil, has been released, a corrections spokeswoman said early Wednesday.

Letourneau was a 34-year-old elementary school teacher in suburban Seattle and a married mother of four in 1996 when her friendship with the then-12-year-old Fualaau mutated into flirtation and then sex.

The illicit relationship was revealed when Letourneau's husband, Steve, found love letters from the boy. Steve Letourneau later moved to Alaska with the couple's children and was granted a divorce.

When Letourneau was arrested in 1997, she was already pregnant with Fualaau's daughter. A judge sentenced her to six months in jail for second-degree child rape, and ordered her to stay away from Fualaau.

But the temptation proved too much for her to resist. A month after Letourneau was released, she was caught having sex with Fualaau in her car, a violation of her parole. She was sent to prison for seven and a half years, and gave birth to Fualaau's second daughter behind bars.

In addition to the revelation of the unseemly sexual activity to Steve Letourneau, the couple's young daughter is said to have witnessed her mother and the boy having sex.

Fualaau knocked about during the intervening years. A poor student, he dropped out of school at 15. There were brushes with the criminal law. He fathered at least one other child. A lawsuit filed in an effort to hold the school system liable for his rape was rejected by jurors. Meanwhile, his mother reared his children along with her own. Today, the 21-year-old Fualaau is unemployed and seems to lack any prospects. Throughout the saga, Letourneau has claimed the seemingly sordid affair was not about an adult taking sexual advantage of a child, to his detriment. She says that hers is one of the most romantic love stories of our times.

Letourneau's own background sheds some light on the situation. She is the daughter of John Schmitz, a far Right politician from California prominent during the 1960s through the '80s. Schmitz was a member of reactionary Roman Catholic groups and the John Birch Society. He was particularly hostile to the Equal Rights Amendment to equalize the status of women in society and very 'pro-family.' He progressed from a city council member, to a state senator, to a candidate for the presidency.

John Schmitz became the 1972 Presidential candidate of the extremely right-wing American Independent Party. No one expected him to win or even to garner as many votes as its previous standard bearer, the far better known Governor George Wallace. However, about one million Americans voted for him, adding up to about 1% of the popular vote.

His meteoric rise in politics came to a halt after it became known that he had maintained a second family with his former secretary for years. Learning her father was a bigamist did not effect Letourneau's strong loyalty to him and his beliefs. The emphasis she places on childbearing -- even under really dubious circumstances -- seems to relate back to his values. She now says she would like to have additional chidren by Fualaau.

Fualaau has asked that he allowed to have contact with Letourneau, KGW-TV reports.

Vili Fualaau says he's an adult now and can pick his own friends, including Mary Kay Letourneau, his elementary school teacher, rapist and the mother of his two children, who was released from prison Wednesday.

Just hours after Letourneau completed her 7 1/2-year prison term for raping Fualaau when he was 12, the now 21-year-old Fualaau sought to reunite with her.

N. Scott Stewart, an attorney for Fualaau, filed a motion to vacate a no-contact order between Fualaau and Letourneau, 42, that was part of Letourneau's sentencing.

That Fualaau and Letourneau would want to get together was no surprise to some who know her well.

"She has a personal need to get back together with him to prove to the world this is a love story and not a crime story," said Gregg Olsen, who wrote a book about Letourneau's case. "Part of Mary Letourneau will never let go of this love."

Perhaps the reason is a lack of insight into romance on my part, but this situation seems like one in which two people have harmed themselves and a half-dozen children. Actually, make that seven children. For most of these years, Fualaau was a child himself. I am doubtful that a continuing relationship between Letourneau and Fualaau would really benefit either of them.

Reasonably related

A fairly balanced narrative of the life of Mary Kay Letourneau can be read at Court TV's Crime Library.

10:45 PM