“There is a story of us that has a life of its own, but it’s not our story,” Mary Kay Letourneau told Barbara Walters in a revealing interview on 20/20 Friday.
The 53-year-old – who spent 89 months in prison for child rape as a result of her relationship with her then-student Vili Fualaau in 1996 – is looking forward to celebrating her 10th wedding anniversary with Fualaau next month and admitted that as the date approaches she’s been looking back on the events that shaped her life.
Before embarking on a sexual relationship with her 13-year-old student, Letourneau was a married schoolteacher and the mother of four children. Today she is a grandmother, but she remains a registered sex offender.
“Recently I said, ‘It’s been 10 years, why don’t I lift that?’ ” she told Walters of her status. “There’s a process, there’s a form, you take it to court and then they grant it if it looks like it should be granted.”
Letourneau, who also said that she’d like to return to teaching, admitted that earlier this year she was banned from visiting her sick teenage daughter in hospital because of her sex offender status.
While Fualaau said he remained faithful to Letourneau in his “heart and mind” while she was in prison, the former teacher says he wasn’t.
“He wasn’t faithful,” she said. “I said he did his thing, I was gone!”
However, the pair did stay in touch while Letourneau was in jail, even though they were banned from contacting each other. The couple communicated through their young daughters, who helped Fualaau propose to Letourneau.
“He had sent a message and they came in singing Hawaiian, ‘Will you marry me?’ They knew daddy would be proposing to mommy as soon as she got to leave [prison].”
As the talk turned to the couple’s children – Audrey, 17, and Georgia, 16, who were born when Fualaau was barely in his teens – Letourneau and her husband revealed that they don’t always see eye to eye when it comes to parenting.
“When the girls get in trouble, I wouldn’t handle it the way she would,” Fualaau, 31, admitted. “It will be a two-hour talk. I’ll be sitting there thinking, ‘When will this be over!’ A lot of the time I’ll give her a hard time about it but actually [it] works in the end.”
While Fualaau added that his wife is “a very good mom,” Letourneau revealed that he’s also a strict father to his girls.
“He told them several years ago, they’re not permitted to have a boyfriend,” Letourneau said.
“When you’re that young a relationship can lead to something you think you wanted back then, but not years later,” Fualaau said. “Don’t put your all into something when it’s just temporary.”
Letourneau also said that their daughters aren’t bullied about their parents’ notoriety.
“Our girls are in the same school district that I taught in, and so they are are in school with teachers that I used to work with,” she said.
The couple also admit that they never directly talked to their daughters about the scandal surrounding their relationship, but they eventually figured it out through Google and gossip.
“One of our daughters just said out of the blue, ‘You and daddy’s relationship would be all right in whatever country.’ I said, ‘Well, you’re right. You’re right.’ ”
When Walters asked Fualaau, who works at a garden center and as a DJ – called DJ Headline – how he’d feel if the girls came home and said they were sleeping with their teacher, he responded, “I don’t support younger kids being married or having a relationship with someone older. I don’t support it.”
Walters also asked Fualaau – who Letourneau admitted cheated on her when she was in prison – if there was ever a time when he thought that he didn’t want to marry his former teacher. His answer was no.
But the high-school dropout admitted that his teenage years were “a really dark time” as he battled depression and alcoholism.
“I feel sad for a lot of parts of my life,” he said. “When I start thinking about those things, I think about the beauty that’s come from it, where can I take that and run with it. [It’s a] happy feeling for sure. I feel very safe.”