Ten years ago Vili Fualaau, then a sixth grader in suburban Seattle, and Mary Kay Letourneau, his 34-year-old teacher and a married mother of four, began an affair that produced two children and became a national scandal. This month, the couple will celebrate their one-year wedding anniversary.
Although Letourneau spent seven years in prison for second-degree rape of a child, she and Fualaau never stopped professing their love. Last May, nine months after her release, they were married at a Seattle-area winery.
In its new issue, PEOPLE offers an exclusive look at their life together after a year of marriage. “We do normal things,” says Letourneau, 44, who shares a rented three-bedroom beachside house in Normandy Park, Wash., with Fualaau, 22. Recently “we all went out to dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant, then over to Blockbuster to get a movie.”
But there are challenges. Letourneau, who lost her teaching license, and Fualaau, who hopes to become a tattoo artist (they rely on the substantial six-figure fee they received for the TV rights to their wedding), are focused on getting full custody of their daughters Audrey, 8, and Alexis, 7.
For now Fualaau’s mother, Soona, who raised the girls while Letourneau was in prison, has custody of them, but in June Letourneau and Fualaau hope a Seattle court will give them custody. “It’ll be nice to take the girls to Disneyland and not have to ask the state or notify Vili’s mom,” says Letourneau.
Her four other kids, from her marriage to Steve Letourneau, are slowly re-entering her life. Last October Steve Jr., 21, told his mother he was moving to Seattle from Anchorage and asked if he could live with her. Mary Claire, 18, a freshman at the Art Institute of Seattle, stays over frequently, and Jacqueline, 12, and Nicholas, 14, also visit regularly.
Still, the situation is complicated for Fualaau. “I feel like I don’t really have a place except that I’m their mother’s husband,” he says. His wife’s children “had a mom and dad and then I came into the picture and they think, ‘I hate that guy; if he hadn’t come along this would never have happened.'”
Fualaau’s relationship with Steve Jr., who is only one year younger, can be strained. “I feel a bit of competition, like, ‘Who deserves Mom’s attention more?’ ” he says. “I back down because she’s his mom and I don’t want him hating me. But I get so frustrated.”
Another strain: Last December, a police officer stopped Fualaau in SeaTac, Wash., for speeding and reported smelling alcohol on his breath. This April a jury found him guilty; his lawyer is looking at options to keep him out of jail.
Despite the arrest, Fualaau’s everyday life is, for the most part, ordinary. He and Letourneau devote most of their time to their kids, but every Saturday night is couples night. For their anniversary “Vili has a plan and he’s keeping it secret,” says Letourneau. Once in a while she envisions having another child. “One more would just be ideal,” she says. “If we could have a boy, it would be Vili’s dream.”
A Day in Their Lives
Recently, Audrey and Alexis, returning from ballet class, dug into a box of costumes in their living room. “It’s spirit day,” explains Letourneau, referring to a tradition practiced by Fualaau’s family, “and the girls get to dress up.” Audrey, the tomboy, slips into a devil outfit; Alexis, the girly-girl, chooses angel’s wings.
Later Alexis tries to sneak a stray cat past her mother. “Let him go,” Letourneau says. “Steven’s allergic to cats.”
On a trip to the supermarket, the girls start fighting, prompting Letourneau to pull Audrey aside. “I reminded her that she is older than her sister, and that seemed like a chance to bring up what happened to me and Vili,” says Letourneau. “I told her, ‘Mommy and Daddy fell in love, but the rules were that we needed to wait until Daddy was older.’ ”
Reporting by Lorenzo Benet in Normandy Park and Stacey Wilson in SeaTac