Tuesday's news that Mary Kay Letourneau had died at the age of 58 has many social media users reflecting on her controversial life and the crimes that landed her behind bars. In 1996, at the age of 34, Letourneau gained national infamy and her life was put under the spotlight after she was caught in an illicit relationship with a former 12-year-old student-turned-husband, Vili Fualaau.
Their highly publicized relationship began with a kiss in 1996 when Faulaau was in sixth grade. That kiss, which Letourneau later described as feeling "very right," soon led to a sexual relationship that became public after Letourneau's then-husband found a love note written to Letourneau from Fualaau. Letourneau would go to jail not once, but twice, receiving a light sentence of six months in jail with three of those months suspended after she pleaded guilty to felony second-degree rape of a child and the second sentence of seven years in prison after she was caught having sex with Fualaau in a car. By the time Faulaau was 15, Letourneau had become pregnant with his child twice. They later married and raised their two daughters together, though they later separated.
After Letourneau's attorney David Gehrke, who had represented her on the case, confirmed that she had died of stage 4 cancer, social media erupted in the discussion, many reflecting on the controversial case and the way in which the relationship and Letourneau’s crimes had been portrayed. Keep scrolling to see what social media had to say.
Mary Kay Letourneau didn’t have an affair with her student she raped a 12-year-old child— eLena eremina shushunova produnova (@lenibriscoe) July 8, 2020
Society fetishized #marykayletourneau for falling in “love”with a 12yr old boy. When she should have been labeled what she is: a pedophile and predator. They gave her films, interviews and book deals. Protect black & brown boys. Believe male victims of sexual abuse.— CtrlAltQuin🏳️🌈 (@ctrlaltquin) July 8, 2020
I am sure that Mary Kay Letourneau will be mourned, and cancer is an ugly, ugly thing. However, she was also a prime example of how female pedophiles are never punished as severely as men- she was even celebrated later- and that is a sick double standard that needs to change.— andrea (@ehwhatdoiknow) July 8, 2020
No disrespect to the dead, but referencing Mary Kay Letourneau today as “former teacher” and oh, I don’t know, “convicted pedophile” is a bit ridiculous. Just because you eventually marry the 11 year old you molested doesn’t mean it all just goes away.— Alex Mueller (@AlexMueller23) July 8, 2020
Convicted rapist Mary Kay Letourneau is dead.
Just wanted to make sure everyone remembered why she was famous.— Jane Praxis 💋 (@JanieGotHerGun) July 8, 2020
The way that Mary Kay Letourneau was framed as something other than a child molester and her victim as something other than a child is one of the more blatant fuckups in modern media. It took me just a few seconds to find old newspaper headlines where he’s called her “lover."— David Bixenspan (@davidbix) July 8, 2020
This story was treated as a “Weekend Update” joke by all of media at the time. I was maybe 10 or 11 possibly, but remember thinking...”that’s pretty fucked.”— Alan J Warda (@ajwarda) July 8, 2020
Mary K Letourneau was a pedophile and child rapist. Gender is irrelevant. The double standard here is toxic. #MaryKayLetourneau— Seattle Cynic (@seattlecynic) July 8, 2020
If this would have been a male teacher with a student we wouldn’t be glorifying this. She was a predator.
My condolences to her children who were innocent in all this.— Natasha Del Riego (@ndelriego) July 8, 2020
Why is it that she isn't remembered as a predator? If she was a man, this would be a while different story. SHE was too young? Try HE was too young when she abused him! People are sick! Mourn the loss of his innocence!— Alanna Friend (@alanna_friend) July 8, 2020
Her life was shocking & her excuses were deplorable. Until the end, she insisted that she didn't know it was a crime for a 34 years old teacher to have sex with a 12 year old child. After apprehended & then on probation, she again was caught having sex with the 14 year old victim pic.twitter.com/9YuAYKXVzY— Pebbles Marie (@azul75002) July 8, 2020
Mary Kay Letourneau, the former teacher who was convicted of 2nd-degree rape of a child after engaging in sexual relations with her then 12-year-old student, has died of cancer.
I could never wrap my mind around this story. Your thoughts? pic.twitter.com/R9nlfXpU9o— Stone (@stonecold2050) July 8, 2020
A Twisted Tragic story, very wrong on so many levels but they married and lived a life together with their children...Sad— Bonnie M (@bdadoll) July 8, 2020