Vili Fualaau, the sixth-grade student who raped and later married Mary Kay Letourneau in the 1990s, "lost a piece of herself" when she died earlier this week, revealed a friend.
58-year-old Letourneau died at home in Des Monies, Washington, Monday, surrounded by family members after a quiet nine-month fight against fourth-stage colon cancer.
She made headlines around the world in 1997 when it was found that the then 34-year-old teacher had a sexual relationship with her student Fualaau, who was only 12 at the time. The couple later married in 2005 after being released from prison before applying for legal separation in 2017.
Although their controversial romance has never found their happiness, the couple have remained close in the three years since their separation and "still had a lot of love for one another," said a friend.
"They didn't speak every day, but they would keep him updated on their cancer treatment," a source told PEOPLE. "In the beginning, there was talk that she was going to beat it, that even though the prognosis was not good, she was struggling with everything she had and that she had a chance to survive."
Vili Fualaau "lost a piece of herself" when Mary Kay Letourneau died of colon cancer this week, a friend said (Image: The family on vacation in New York in 2015 with their daughters Georgina (left) and Audrey (right) )
Letourneau (top 1997) was a sixth grade teacher at Shorewood Elementary in 1997 when it was found that she had sexual relationships with Vili Fualaau, then 12 years old
But by June Letourneau's cancer had spread so rapidly that she "started saying goodbye," said Fualaau's anonymous friend.
"She would speak to Vili or he would call her to see how she was doing. The marriage had broken up, but they still had love for one another. They had children together and he would always say that she was his first love. Of course he's sad about the loss. He is sad for the girls, but he is also sad for himself. "
Letourneau became pregnant twice before Fualaau turned 15, despite judicial orders aimed at keeping her apart. The couple share two daughters, Georgina and Audrey.
"He lost a piece of himself," said Fualaau's friend to PEOPLE. “He understands how damn everything was how they got together. He is not stupid. But he cannot completely turn off his feelings and it is a great loss for him. He spoke to her shortly before her death and they said everything they had to say. "
On Wednesday, DailyMail.com reported that Fualaau had looked after Letourneau around the clock in the final stages of her life.
In an interview with TODAY, her friend and longtime lawyer David Gehrke further explained on Wednesday that Fualaau had uprooted his life to ensure that he could be there to do this care.
"Vili retired from California, gave up his life there, and has been around the clock and looking after her for the last two months of his life," he said. "So yes, they were divorced and had their gaiters, but they were always in love with each other.
"He knew that this was Mary's end that was moving quickly, for her sake and for the sake of the family, and for his sake, he came back and was with her, and it meant the world to her," said Gehrke. "And I know that Vili meant the world, as painful as it was."
"Your marriage lasted longer than most," he continued. "But they always looked after each other very much."
Although their controversial romance was never happy, the couple have remained close in the three years since their separation and "still had a lot of love for each other" (Image: Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau during a photo shoot at their house on the beach April 27, 2006)
The couple is shown in 2005, the year they married. Their divorce would be completed 14 years later, but they remained close
Letourneau is survived by her children Steven Jr., Claire, Nicholas and Jacqueline, whom she had with her first husband Steve Letourneau in addition to the two daughters she had with Fualaau
A source close to the couple told The Sun that both Letourneau and Fualaau were determined to get their relationship up and running before she succumbed to cancer on Monday.
"All hearts are very heavy right now," said the source. “I think she and her loved ones spent every minute of every moment spending time together.
"I know they both loved and revered each other and did everything to keep the family intact."
The families of Fualaau, now 37, and Letourneau published a joint statement on their death on Wednesday, saying that they were "deeply sad" by their death.
"Mary has worked tirelessly against this terrible disease," the family said of their fight against cancer. “Mary and we all found great strength in having our immediate and extended family members together to join her in this arduous struggle. We have done our best to take care of Mary and each other as we have kept her closely together.
"We are infinitely grateful for the care and kindness that has been received by the amazing professionals involved in Mary's care," the statement said. "Likewise, the friendliness and compassion of friends and others who learned about their condition on their way proved to be an uplifting gift for all of us."
Friends of the couple also warned to post "insensitive" comments after their death, despite the controversial beginnings of their and Fualaau's relationship.
"She leaves six children and two grandchildren. As unconventional as the relationship was, it was real and they lived a loving life, ”said the source of the sun. "It's time to let children move on into their adult lives without reading or hearing the persecution by strangers."
Fualaau had looked after Letourneau around the clock in the final stages of her life
Friends of the couple have warned that after their deaths, despite the controversial beginnings of their and Fualau's relationship, they post “insensitive” comments (Image: Mary Kay Letourneau, 36, is taken to a King County courtroom)
A source close to the couple said that both Letourneau and Fualaau were determined to get their relationship up and running before she succumbed to cancer on Monday
In 1998, a fifteen-year-old Vili Fualaau was holding a gift for one of his daughters
Letourneau first met Fualaau when he was in second grade in 1992, but they only started their sexual relationship four years later when he was 12 years old.
In 1996, after the end of the school year, the couple enrolled in summer classes at the same community college and spent more time together.
The day after class, the two went out for dinner. In an interview in 2018, Fualaau recalled that after dinner he asked Letourneau to kiss in her car, which she accepted.
SCHEDULE OF MARY KAY LETOURNEAU AND VILI FUALAAU
1992: Letourneau met Fualaau for the first time when he entered her second class at the age of 8
1996: Her sexual relationship started when he was 12 years old and she was 34 years old. She says she started when they went to dinner after a day of summer classes and he asked her to kiss her in her car. You let him
They had sex later in the summer, which they described as the beginning of their physical relationship
1997: Letourneau's husband Steve finds love letters between the two.
One of his relatives alerted the school and Letourneau was arrested for rape.
Steve files for divorce and is given custody of her four children.
August 1997: Mary Kay gives birth to her first daughter with Fualaau while she is waiting to be sentenced
November 1997: She is serving three months in a plea
August 1998: The couple is caught having sex in a car and sentenced to seven years in prison. She is already pregnant with her second daughter
October 1998: Her second daughter is born in prison
August 2004: Mary Kay is released from prison
2005: The couple is getting married
2017: Fualauu files for separation, but they make up
August 2019: The separation is complete
July 2020: Mary Kay dies of colon cancer
Letourneau then had sex with Fualaau for the first time later that summer when her husband Steve Letourneau was out of town.
At around 1:20 p.m. on June 19, 1996, the police found the couple in a minivan parked in Des Moines Marina. Letourneau jumped into the front seat as officials approached the vehicle while Fualaau pretended to sleep in the back.
Fualaau and Letourneau denied that there had been any "touches". They initially gave false names and Letourneau informed the police that Fualaau was 18 years old.
Letourneau then said that after she and her husband quarreled, she had baby-sat the boy in her house and took him with her in her van.
They were taken to the police station, but no further action was taken.
However, the true nature of their relationship was revealed in February 1997 when Steve Letourneau found love letters the couple had written to each other. He confronted Fualaau and asked him to end the relationship, otherwise he would inform his parents.
"He came to my house and confronted me with it and told me if I didn't want my mother to know about it or someone knew about it, it would end," Fualaau said in an interview in 2018. "I was worried everything to Mary, myself and said, "OK, I don't want this to come out anywhere. "
"The fear of my mother's reaction and the thought that everyone was affected was one of my biggest fears, so I said, for the better of everyone, OK. It was kind of devastating. & # 39;
However, one of Steve's relatives had already informed the school authorities of their relationship, and Letourneau was arrested for rape.
Shortly afterwards, Steve filed for divorce. He received custody of their four children and moved the family to Alaska.
Letourneau was initially sentenced to three months in prison in November 1997, under a deferral agreement that she agreed to no longer be in contact with Fualaau.
At the time of her conviction, she was pregnant with the child of her former student.
Letourneau was then released on parole in 1998.
However, shortly after she was released from prison on February 3, she was found having sex in a car with Fualaau again.
A judge subsequently revoked Letourneau's prior consent and she was sentenced to seven years in prison for raping second-degree children for violating the non-contact order.
She gave birth to Fualaau's second child in prison. The father had not yet turned 15.
Their illegal relationship was exposed by Letourneau's then husband Steve Letourneau, who found love letters between his wife and Fualaau. He divorced her and moved to Alaska. She is seen in the process
Vili Fualaau, 15, is shown in court on October 25, 1998. He had just come to Seattle from London to advertise a book he had written about his relationship with Letourneau
Former Seattle teacher Mary Kay Letourneau, whose affair with one of her ex-students sparked a national scandal, collapses on February 6 when she has to go to prison for 7 1/2 years because she sees the boy again
Letourneau with her first daughter Audrey in 1997. Fualaau spoke about the difficulties he faced in raising his two daughters alone when he was not even an adult. The teenager eventually had to drop out of high school and became depressed and alcoholic
Letourneau gave birth to Fualaau's second child in prison. The young father had not yet turned 15
After she was released from prison, Fualaau, now a grown man, applied to a judge to overturn the non-contact order.
The injunction against Letourneau was dropped, but the shamed teacher remained a registered sex offender in Washington State.
Letourneau and Fualaau shocked the world again when they closed the knot in 2005.
They remained married for 12 years until Fualaau applied for divorce in 2017.
The couple continued to live together during the legal separation and were occasionally seen in the Seattle area with their two daughters Georgina and Audrey.
Despite several attempts at reconciliation, the couple completed their separation in February last year and began to live separately.
"You don't hate each other.
"But both are looking forward to continuing with their lives and moving forward," said a source close to the couple at the time.
Letourneau was initially sentenced to three months in prison in November 1997, under a deferral agreement that she agreed to no longer be in contact with Fualaau
Letourneau collapsed in 2018 when she talked about the impact of the couple's relationship on the media.
& # 39; It's shock value. That was the point. Shock. I call it massacre. Street kill. Blood, ”she said in the A&E special autobiography.
& # 39; Everyone wants to hear the story. Whether it's because they want to analyze or criticize it. It's been 20 years, but it's still there. & # 39;
Letourneau went on to say that the media had misrepresented their relationship. She said the relationship between the two only started after the end of the school year and that she quickly became physical.
& # 39; The incident was a late night that didn't stop with a kiss. And I thought it would and it didn't, ”Letourneau said. & # 39; I loved him very much and somehow thought: "Why can it never be just a kiss? & # 39; & # 39;
Fualaau, who also appeared, thought about their relationship and said he didn't think when they started having sex at the age of 12.
"The age difference, all that stuff was not going through my head," he said. "Many things that should have been going through my head at the time didn't go through my head."
In a separate interview that same year, Letourneau claimed she had no idea that it was illegal to have a sexual relationship with a child at that time.
"If someone had told me about it, if someone had told me about it, there would be a specific law that says this is a crime," she told Channel Seven & # 39; s Sunday Night.
& # 39; I didn't know. I've said that over and over again. I would have known if someone knew my personality. Just the idea that that would count as a crime. & # 39;
Fualaau was a worried Samoan boy from a broken home who was living in a rough part of Seattle at the time of the scandal. His father was imprisoned for an armed robbery and had a difficult relationship with his mother
Fualaau was a worried Samoan boy from a broken home who was living in a rough part of Seattle at the time of the scandal. His father was imprisoned for an armed robbery and had a difficult relationship with his mother.
He also opened the program on the difficulties he faced when trying to raise his two daughters alone when he wasn't even an adult.
The teenager was eventually forced to drop out of high school and slip into depression and alcoholism, he said.
"I don't feel like I have the right support or help behind me," he said. "From my family, from anyone in general. I mean, my friends couldn't help me because they had no idea what it was like to be a parent, I mean because we were all 14, 15. & # 39;
Letourneau is survived by her children Steven Jr., Claire, Nicholas and Jacqueline, whom she had with her first husband Steve Letourneau in addition to the two daughters she had with Fualaau.
"I really believe that she was never a threat to a boy other than the one she married after seven years in prison," Gehrke told Q13 News. "I feel nothing but sadness for her children, whom she loved more than anything else."
Her daughters Audrey (23) and Georgia (21) spoke about their childhood after the scandal in an interview with an Australian news channel in 2018.
"I think I understand that, just as it was surprising to people," said Audrey. "It felt different because it wasn't really brought to our attention, just because we grew up with it, so we're adapted to it."
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