Mary Kay Letourneau, the former Washington state teacher convicted of raping her 12-year-old student Vili Fualaau in the late 1990s, told a friend that she felt “deep remorse” for her actions before she died, according to a report from People magazine.

The unnamed source told People that they received a letter from Letourneau before her death from colon cancer last year, expressing regret for her crimes.

At the end of your life, you start reassessing a lot of things,” said the source. “And she was trying to make her peace, not only with everyone else, but with herself.”

Mary Kay Letourneau was a 34-year-old sixth grade teacher in the Seattle area in 1996, when she began sexually abusing 12-year-old student Vili Fualaau. Letourneau gave birth to two of Fualaau’s children before he was 15, and was later sentenced to a seven-year prison term after being convicted on two counts of child rape.

When she was released from prison in 2004, Letourneau married Fualaau, who was by then an adult. The pair divorced in 2019.

“The bottom line was that she understood on a very deep level that she had really made a mess of her life and the lives of many other people back in 1996,” the source told People. “She realized that even though things turned out relatively good, that she was responsible for a wide swath of destruction by her actions. She apologized to a lot of people for a lot of things.”

Another report from People, again citing an anonymous source close to the convicted child rapist, indicated that Letourneau wrote “nearly 30” letters to people that had been affected by her crimes, asking forgiveness and hoping to “right wrongs.”

Despite her marriage to Fualaau lasting more than a decade and raising two daughters with him, the source said, Letourneau insisted she had come to regret her actions by the end of her life.

“Absolutely nothing she did during that stage of her life should ever be emulated,” they said. “She understood that, more acutely at the end of her life. She felt deep remorse.”

Mary Kay Letourneau, the discraged teacher and convicted child rapist who went on to marry the 12-year-old student she abused, told friends she had 'deep remorse' before her death in 2020.
Mary Kay Letourneau, the discraged teacher and convicted child rapist who went on to marry the 12-year-old student she abused, told friends she had ‘deep remorse’ before her death in 2020. Photo credit: Washington State Sex Offender Registry

For years after conviction, Mary Kay Letourneau continued to justify the sexual abuse of a child for which she was convicted. In prison, the sex offender wrote a book published in France titled Only One Crime, Love. In a 2015 interview with Barbara Walters, she explicitly denied that she felt “guilty” or “disgusted” by her actions, at the time or later on.

Last year, another anonymous source told People that Vili Fualaau had begun to understand his relationship with Letourneau as predatory since the couple’s divorce.

“He’s starting to get some perspective,” said the source. “He sees things clearly now, and realizes that this wasn’t a healthy relationship from the start.”

Fualaau has reportedly suffered from depression and has struggled with alcoholism in the years since the sexual abuse. After the case received international attention when Letourneau was convicted in 1998, Fualaau said the public pressure and bullying from peers drove him to attempt suicide.

“I just couldn’t take it […] even my own family members started teasing me,” he told the Seattle Times. “”I guess I would say I was a normal kid. […] But to [Letourneau], I was someone different. There was something in me that she could see that I couldn’t see, and we, we just, I don’t know. The whole thing is just really just a big sin, just a big sin.”

Letourneau and Fualaau’s two daughters are now adults, and are reportedly “unconcerned” with the scandal surrounding their late mother.

The couple are said to have remained close even after their divorce was finalized in 2019. When she died at age 58 last year, Mary Kay Letourneau reportedly left much of her estate to Fualaau.