- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 4, 2004

GIG HARBOR, Wash. (AP) — Mary Kay Letourneau, the grade school teacher convicted for having sex with a sixth-grade student, was released from prison early yesterday, and her now 21-year-old former lover is challenging a court order that bars her from contacting him.

Mrs. Letourneau, who served 7 years in prison, slipped unnoticed past the hordes of reporters and gawkers outside the Washington Corrections Center for Women before dawn.

As a condition of her release, Mrs. Letourneau, 42, can’t contact the former student Vili Fualaau, who is the father of two of her children.

But early yesterday, Mr. Fualaau’s attorney, N. Scott Stewart, filed a motion to vacate the no-contact order. Mr. Fualaau “does not fear Mary K. Letourneau,” the motion argues, adding that the sole basis for criminal charges was Mr. Fualaau’s age.

“He is now an adult and, as an adult, is requesting that the court allow him to associate with other adults of his own choosing, specifically Mary K. Letourneau,” it says.

The 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.

A friend, Noel Soriano, told NBC’s “Today” show that Mr. Fualaau was “relieved that she’s out of prison and currently he can’t wait to see her.”

Mrs. Letourneau, who sang in the choir and recorded books on tape for the blind while in prison, wants to try to build a normal life, said Seattle lawyer Anne Bremner, who struck up a friendship with Mrs. Letourneau in 2002 and spoke to her by phone recently. “She wants to be a mother, she wants to be a responsible member of society.”

Mrs. Letourneau was a 34-year-old elementary school teacher in suburban Seattle and a married mother of four in 1996 when her friendship with the then-12-year-old boy turned sexual.

The illicit relationship was revealed when Mrs. Letourneau’s husband, Steve, found love letters from the boy. Mr. Letourneau later moved to Alaska with the couple’s children and was granted a divorce.

When Mrs. Letourneau was arrested in 1997, she was pregnant with the student’s daughter. A judge sentenced her to six months in jail for second-degree child rape, and ordered her to stay away from the boy.

But a month after Mrs. Letourneau was released, she was caught having sex with him in her car, a violation of her parole. She was sent to prison for seven and a half years, and gave birth to Mr. Fualaau’s second daughter behind bars.

“This case is not about a flawed system. This is about an opportunity that you foolishly squandered,” King County Superior Court Judge Linda Lau told Mrs. Letourneau at her sentencing, referring to the lenient terms she had imposed earlier.

Mrs. Letourneau’s two daughters with Mr. Fualaau are now 5 and 7. They visited her in prison about twice a month. Her four older children visited a few times a year.

Mrs. Letourneau may now want to tell her own story. A state appeals court ruled in 2000 that she may sell and profit from her story. She also has expressed interest in working for a group that advocates for the rights of mothers in prison.

As for trying to reconnect with Mr. Fualaau, Mrs. Letourneau was mum. “I’m not allowing myself to think about being with him,” she told Seattle’s KOMO-TV earlier this week. “We had a beautiful relationship, and I value it for what it was.”

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