The teacher at the center of an infamous student sex scandal has died.
Mary Kay Letourneau, the former Washington schoolteacher who made headlines for her sexual relationship with an underage student in 1997, has died, ET confirms. She was 58.
Letourneau had been battling stage 4 colon cancer for months, and spent the last month month in hospice care, her attorney, David Gehrke, tells ET.
"Her death was fairly sudden. Most of the family including Vili were there with her. Vili was giving her 24-hour care for the last month of her life," Gehrke says of Letourneau's ex, Vili Fualaau. "... Sometimes you hear of people battling cancer for years, or it goes away. But she was diagnosed about six months ago and they knew right away it was fatal."
"My hope is that she will be remembered for all the great things she did for everybody in her life, rather than the one mistake she made," Gehrke tells ET exclusively.
In 1997, Letourneau pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree child rape for her sexual relationship with Fualaau, her 12-year-old student. She was sentenced to seven years in prison.
Letourneau illegally continued her relationship with Fualaau, giving birth to two children with the minor by the time he was 15. Letourneau gave birth to their first child, a daughter, in 1997, while awaiting sentencing.
Letourneau initially struck a plea deal in which she would only have to serve six months in jail and then undergo years of sex offender treatment. She was also forbidden from having contact with Fualaau. However, two weeks after leaving jail, she was found in a car with Fualaau near her home.
The plea agreement was revoked and she returned to prison, where she gave birth to Fualaau's second child in October 1998.
Letourneau had four other children from her previous marriage.
Fualaau and Letourneau continued their relationship after she left prison in 2004 and got married in 2005. Gehrke confirms to ET that Vili filed for legal separation in 2017 and, despite several reconciliation attempts, the case moved to private arbitration in February 2019. The separation became official late last year and the two began living apart.
"They couldn't live together, but they always loved each other," Gehrke says. "And he came back up at the end [of her life] to take care of her as a reflection of that love."
Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau Legally Separate More Than 20 Years After Teacher-Student Affair