When Mary Kay Letourneau began having sex with her 12-year-old student Vili Fualauu in 1996, she was already a married woman with four kids. She had met her husband, Steve Letourneau, in college, and together they were raising Jacqueline, Mary Claire, Nicholas and Steven Jr.
But the marriage fell apart after Letourneau’s husband found love letters that she wrote to Fualaau, who had been her sixth-grade student. A relative reported the liaison to the school, and she was arrested.
Letourneau, 55, was ultimately sentenced to seven-and-a-half years behind bars for child rape, including being sent back after she was caught with Fualaau following her first stint.
In 1999, her husband filed for divorce after 15 years of marriage. He got custody of their kids, who had limited contact with their mother for years. She was released from prison in 2004 and married Fualaau in 2005.
Neither the Letourneau kids nor their father, Letourneau’s ex-husband, have commented on her surprise split last month from Fualaau, 33.
Steve Letourneau got remarried and had more children, and he has rarely spoken publicly about his notorious former spouse. He lives a quiet life in Alaska and shies away from interviews.
“I’ve moved on,” he tells PEOPLE, “and I have nothing to say.”
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His kids with Letourneau slowly re-entered her life since her release from prison nearly 13 years ago, despite the distance between them in the aftermath of her affair. They also got to know their half-sisters, Audrey and Georgia, now 20 and 18, respectively.
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One of Letourneau’s daughters, Mary Claire, was her maid of honor at her nuptials with Fualaau. Steven Jr. — who is not much younger than Fualaau — later asked to move in with Letourneau, while Jacqueline and Nicholas began visiting her regularly.
Speaking to PEOPLE in 2006, she gushed about their strengthening bond.
“If I had known a year ago how all of them are together in my life now,” she said, “I would have cried.”
Fualaau said then that there were some complications between him and his stepchildren. Nearly a decade later, however, he said things were easier.
“It’s an awkward feeling, for sure,” he told Barbara Walters in 2015, “to be close in age with someone who’s technically your stepson or stepdaughter. But we have a good relationship now.”
• With reporting by JEFF TRUESDELL