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Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - Page updated at 01:11 P.M.

Letourneau released from prison today

By Michael Ko and The Associated Press
Seattle Times staff reporter

Mary K. Letourneau served nearly 7 years.
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After serving most of a 7 1/2-year sentence for child rape, Mary K. Letourneau was released from prison early this morning, and within hours the former pupil she was convicted of raping filed a motion to lift the no-contact order that would keep the two apart.

The attorneys for the former student, Vili Fualaau, who was 12-years-old at the time of the crimes, filed a motion in King County Superior Court this morning seeking to have the no-contact order lifted.

In the motion, the attorneys argue that the no-contact order was entered at the time of Letourneau's conviction for Fualaau's protection while he was minor and that the order serves no purpose now.

"Mr.. Fualaau is now 21 years old," the three-page document says. "He does not fear Mary K. Letourneau. He is now an adult and is now requesting that the court allow him to associate with other adults of his own choosing, specifically Mary K. Letourneau so long as no crime is committed."

The King County prosecutor's office is reviewing the motion, spokesman Dan Donohoe said, and had not yet decided whether to agree to it or request a hearing before a judge.

Letourneau, who was released from the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Gig Harbor sometime after midnight today, must register today as a sex offender with the King County Sheriff's Office and report where she is living. Then she must meet with her community corrections officer.

When Letourneau , 42, and Fualaau were having sexual encounters, she was 34 and he was 12.

Though contrite at times, she has steadfastly maintained that their unusual union was strictly about love. While in prison, in violation of the no-contact order, she sent Fualaau more than 20 letters, which were mostly affectionate. In one, though, she threatened him with "castration" if he ever dated anyone else.

Yesterday morning at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Fualaau told KING-TV reporter Linda Byron that he still loved Letourneau. Fualaau was on his way to New York City with a friend for national media interviews.

"I'm kinda nervous, I don't know what my feelings are right now, but I do know that I do love her," said Fualaau, when asked what his reaction was to Letourneau leaving prison.

When asked if he hoped to get together with her again, he sighed, turned his head and declined to answer.

A history of the Letourneau case


October 1995: Mary K. Letourneau learns her father is dying of cancer, an event that a therapist later says was critical to her state of mind when she became sexually involved with Vili Fualaau.

January 1996: Letourneau has a miscarriage and a nervous breakdown, according to psychiatrist Julia Moore of Federal Way, who also said Letourneau has bipolar disorder.

Summer 1996: Letourneau becomes sexually involved with Fualaau, then a 12-year-old sixth-grader, whom she also taught when he was in second grade. He later tells police he and Letourneau had sex about six times in 1996, mostly at her home or in her car.

February 1997: Letourneau's husband finds love letters from his wife to Fualaau. A relative of the husband's eventually calls school officials, who alert police.

May 1997: Letourneau gives birth to the first of two girls fathered by Fualaau.

August 1997: Letourneau pleads guilty in King County Superior Court to two counts of second-degree child rape.

November 1997: Letourneau is sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison, which is suspended on condition she complete a treatment program for sexual offenders and serve six months in jail, with credit for time already served. Her sentencing plan has five pages of other restrictions, including that she have no contact with Fualaau. She promises the judge she will stay away from him.

Jan. 6, 1998: Letourneau is released from jail and registers as a sex offender with the King County Sheriff's Office. She moves in with a friend in Seattle.

Feb. 3, 1998: Letourneau is arrested for violating the conditions of her probation when she is found with Fualaau in a parked car near her home at 2:40 a.m. She learns she's pregnant soon after.

Feb. 4, 1998: Letourneau is put on suicide watch in King County Jail while awaiting a court hearing. Officials say she is distraught at the thought of going to prison.

Feb. 6, 1998: Letourneau is sentenced to serve the rest of her 7 1/2-year prison sentence after King County Superior Court Judge Linda Lau is told she not only violated conditions of her parole, but that money and clothing found in the car when she was arrested may have indicated she planned to flee. Letourneau is immediately taken from the King County Jail to the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Gig Harbor

October 1998: Letourneau gives birth to her second daughter by Fualaau.

July 1999: The Letourneaus' divorce is finalized.

Aug. 4, 2004: Letourneau is released from prison.

A media frenzy grew as Letourneau's release approached. News and tabloid organizations from all over the world were camped out in front of the women's prison.

Friends and lawyers have speculated that one of Letourneau's main goals upon her release will be to reconnect with each of her children.

She has been allowed frequent supervised visits with her two daughters by Fualaau, now 7 and 5 years old.

She has also been in regular contact with her four children, two boys and two girls ranging in age from 10 to 19, from her previous marriage. They live in Anchorage with Letourneau's ex-husband, Steve.

Letourneau was a popular teacher and the married mother of four when she began teaching Fualaau in the second grade at Shorewood Elementary School in Burien.

Letourneau said she was struck by Fualaau's artistic abilities. She mentored him for years, introducing him to the piano, buying him art supplies and even taking a community-college art class with him.

Over the years, he described the kinds of things that drew him in: She encouraged his art; he was rewarded with dinner for doing well in school; and Letourneau ate chocolate cake from his fingers.

In the sixth grade, when she was his teacher for the second time, he asked her to marry him and gave her a sterling-silver ring that he had found on the street.

"She took her husband's ring off and put mine on," he said during a 2002 civil trial, where he and his mother sued the school district for not preventing the relationship. "She wore it every day at school."

The sex started soon after that. It wasn't long before her husband found out. Their marriage was already rocky.

Letourneau pleaded guilty to second-degree child rape and accepted intensive sex-offender treatment. But a month after her conditional release, she was caught having sex with Fualaau again. She was sent to prison immediately. Their daughters, including the one born while Letourneau was in custody, were raised by Fualaau's mother.

Gregg Olsen, the author of "If Loving You is Wrong," the story of the Letourneau scandal, interviewed her at length for the book. He believes she will contact Fualaau again.

"I think she'll want to prove to the world that it was a love story," Olsen said. "She'll want to be with him, even if it's for a little while, and she'll want to prove that she didn't waste six and a half years of her life in prison for nothing."

In jail, Letourneau enlisted as a teacher's aide, read books to the blind and studied at the law library. She also violated the no-contact order numerous times and was punished as a result.

In the years since the relationship, Fualaau has acknowledged that he has consumed illegal drugs and alcohol, been fired from a fast-food job, assaulted his mother, dropped out of high school, been arrested for car theft and spent time in a psychiatric hospital.

He and his mother, Soona, received approximately $200,000 from various tabloid, book and movie deals, including a book published in France. But the money was spent on elaborate parties, trips and hotels.

Fualaau's father has spent much of his life in prison and has 18 children by five women.

During the 2002 civil trial, Fualaau was asked how he felt about Letourneau. He said she was the best thing that ever happened to his life.

Michael Ko: 206-515-5653 or mko@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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