What Happened to Mary Kay Letourneau? From Prison, to Marrying Her Former Student, to Her Death

Melissa Willets - Author

Dec. 4 2023, Published 10:32 a.m. ET

Report online or in-person sexual abuse of a child or teen by calling the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453 or visiting childhelp.org. Learn more about the warning signs of child abuse at RAINN.org.

The Gist:

  • Former teacher Mary Kay Letourneau sexually abused her then 12-year-old student Vili Fualaau.
  • She went to prison for her crime, but also had two kids with her former student.
  • The two would eventually marry, but ultimately divorced, with Letourneau passing away at the age of 58.
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Content warning: This article discusses sexual abuse of a minor.

Some of us are old enough to remember when 34-year-old teacher Mary Kay Letourneau went to prison for sexually abusing her sixth grade student Vili Fualaau. Sadly, situations like these make national headlines often, but this case shocked the nation given that Letourneau went on to have two kids with Fualaau, and even marry him.

But what happened to her once their unconventional and even disturbing story ended?

Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau during a photo shoot at her beach front home April 27, 2006 in Normandy Park, Wash.
Source: Getty Images
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What happened to Mary Kay Letourneau after prison?

It was 1997 when Letourneau was arrested for child sexual abuse according to People. But even going to prison didn't teach the former sixth grade teacher to stay away from Fualaau.

She was paroled a year earlier than her seven year sentence, but with the provision that she stay away from the boy she'd abused. Letourneau failed to do this, and returned to prison.

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By the time she was finally released in 2004, she had two children with Fualaau. In fact, he was a father of two by age 15.

However, the two decided to marry, as Fualaau was 21 when his former teacher completed her prison sentence.

Incredibly, Letourneau and Fualaau stayed married until 2017, when they became legally separated, later divorcing in 2019.

It was only a few years later that the infamous child groomer would be dead in yet another shocking turn of this headline-making story.

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What was Mary Kay Letourneau's cause of death?

Interest in the relationship between Letourneau and Fualaau faded over time, with their divorce making headlines, sure, but being renewed when the registered sex offender and mom died in 2020.

So what was Letourneau's cause of death? The former educator had stage 4 cancer and passed away at age 58.

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Fualaau, who now is a father of three and a soon-to-be grandfather, was deeply affected by his ex-wife's death, with a friend telling People, "He lost a piece of himself. He understands how f--ked up everything was in how they got together. He's not stupid. But he can't turn off his feelings completely, and it's a big loss for him. He talked to her right before she passed, and they said everything they needed to say."

The cringeworthy love story between the former couple has yet another chapter, with Netflix releasing a movie based on the scandal called May December in 2023. The flick stars Julianne Moore, Natalie Portman, and Charles Melton, and has people talking on social media.

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The young actor who plays the character based on Fualaau is being praised for his performance and is even getting Oscar buzz.

Meanwhile, at time of writing, the 40-year-old had not publicly commented on the movie inspired by his former relationship and family. By all accounts, he now lives a quiet life and is seemingly trying to distance himself from the scandal that has defined his life so far.

If you need support, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or visit RAINN.org to chat online one-on-one with a support specialist at any time.

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