Mary Kay Letourneau: The Romance That was a Crime
Despite Vili's earlier disavowal of feelings for Mary Kay, he found his love rekindled when she was freed. The couple decided to marry. The engagement surprised many observers who believed Vili had experienced a childhood infatuation that would have run its course by adulthood.
One who was not shocked was Mary Kay's attorney David Gehrke. "I was with Vili when he got the phone call from his attorney saying the no-contact order was lifted," Gehrke recalls, "and I knew what the message was by seeing his shoulders lift and his face lift and the big smile. I knew right then that they were going to be married because I could see it in his face."
Gehrke had long believed this relationship was different from most cases of adult-child sex. "Everybody just assumed that because of the age difference there could not be love," he comments, "and that it had to be lust or power or whatever." Although Gehrke thought his client could genuinely be in love when she started a sexual relationship with then-13-year-old Vili, he had cautioned her when she was awaiting trial, "Love is not a defense."
On October 11, 2004, Mary Kay, an engagement ring on her finger, appeared on Larry King Live to discuss her crimes, imprisonment, and upcoming nuptials. According to CNN.com, the parolee was unemployed and living as a guest in a friendly couple's home at the time of the interview. She told King that when she began having sex with Vili she did not realize "it was a felony" for an adult to have sex with a 13-year-old although she knew it "just wasn't normal."
Mary Kay continued that when she first became aware of her attraction to the sixth-grader she "didn't think about the age" but "thought about running, far and fast" only because she "didn't want to be in love at that time in my life." Once the relationship got underway she gave little thought to his age because "we were so much in love."
King asked Mary Kay about the seven and a half years she served in prison and she replied, "I never expected to spend that much time there." She also said that, for her four older children, "I'm sure that me going to prison was as hard as [the] death of a parent." Convicts are notorious for persecuting inmates imprisoned for sex offenses but Mary Kay asserted that other inmates had not harassed her. She continued, "I have very, very many friends, still some close friends at the prison, friends that I have a lot of respect in, and they do with me." She indicated that some of her experiences with authorities were "pretty bad" although "never physical" but said that the prison had "some really decent staff members."
Mary Kay said she considered her life "blessed" because "I'm healthy. My children are healthy. And I still have a mother. And I come from a very loving family. And I have Vili."