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Vili Fualaau was by Mary Kay Letourneau's side when she died, attorney says

Letourneau pleaded guilty to raping her 12-year-old student. They married after she served years in jail, and had two children. She died this week of cancer.

DES MOINES, Wash. — Mary Kay Letourneau died this week of cancer at age 58.

She became an international household name in the late 1990s when she pleaded guilty to raping her 12-year-old Shorewood Elementary School student, Vili Fualaau.

The case dominated worldwide tabloid headlines during her court proceedings, and then a decade later when she and Fualaau got married. They also wrote a book together and were the subject of a TV movie and documentaries.

David Gehrke was Letourneau’s attorney during the trial. He knew her because they lived in the same neighborhood.

“We were friends before, not good friends but once she pled guilty, she was automatically confined until the end of whatever her sentence was. So, I visited her a lot during the six months,” Gehrke said.

She initially had been serving six months in jail for pleading guilty and was ordered to have no contact with Fualaau, who was still a minor.

However, when she was released she was caught having sex with him in a car. Because of this, she was ordered to serve the full sentence of 7-and-a-half years.

Letourneau gave birth to Fualaau's first child while awaiting sentencing and his second child while in jail.

The two were married in 2005 after Letourneau was released from prison, Fualaau was 22-years-old.

They spent over a decade together and had two children.

After the announcement of Letourneau’s passing, many online commenters felt that she shouldn’t be celebrated in death due to her criminal history and relationship with Fualaau.

Gehrke feels differently.

“I do believe it was a love story and I tell everybody she needed to go to prison for it. She had the duty as an adult to be the adult, and she failed in that. But to label her a rapist, a pedophile or things like that I will argue against for a long time,” he said.

Fualaau and Letourneau separated in 2017, and their divorce was finalized last year.

But Gehrke says Fualaau was by her side the day she died.

“Villi came back when he got the news and when she got really bad, but the last two months was with her 24/7 taking care of her. They were still in love,” he said.  

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