He was a DJ. She was a legal assistant. They lived together in a modest home in Seattle.
Sometimes, she would show up at his gigs, dancing and posing for pictures. Then they’d go home to their two daughters, Audrey and Georgia. At home, things were normal. In 2006, the couple told PEOPLE that they devoted most of their time to their kids, but every Saturday night was date night, where they’d go to restaurants and movies.
It seemed like a normal marriage — but there was nothing conventional about the way that Mary Kay Letourneau and her student-turned-husband, Vili Fualaau, got together. They met when she was a 20-something teacher at Shorewood Elementary School in Burien, Washington. He was in her second-grade class. They began a sexual relationship a few years later, when he was 12 and in the sixth grade.
Ultimately, Letourneau spent seven years in jail for child rape in connection with their relationship. She was told not to contact him, but she did anyway.
“They had back-channel contact during the time they weren’t supposed to be speaking,” her former attorney, David Gehrke, tells PEOPLE.
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Letourneau and Fualaau were married on May 20, 2005, in a Washington winery, less than a year after she was released from prison. In rare interviews and appearances, they said they were a happy couple.
But some of their public appearances referenced their controversial history. In Seattle, Fualauu goes by the name “DJ Headline.” He and Letourneau have hosted “Hot for Teacher Night” promotions at clubs around the city.
But, according to those around them, things have cooled off in recent years. Their daughters are now 20 and 18 — no longer minors dependent on them. And even the couple admitted in 2015 that their relationship wasn’t always smooth sailing.
“I don’t think there’s ever a full 10 good years of marriage,” Fualaau told Barbara Walters. “You have your ups and downs.”
It now seems that the marriage is ending: Fualaau, now 33, filed for separation from the 55-year-old Letourneau (and she has filed for dismissal of the separation, her lawyer confirms to PEOPLE). No further court activity has transpired, but those close to the couple say that the relationship is floundering.
Gehrke says that their relationship was once very close. “I’m convinced they were totally in love,” he says. “But sometimes, people who are totally in love have trouble staying in love. They slowly drift apart. One day, you wake up and realize that things are different with your partner.”
They sat down with PEOPLE for an extensive interview in 2006. Fualaau, then 22, said he sometimes wondered about the past.
“I think, What would my life have been like if I had never made a move on Mary?” he said. “What if I had kept it as a crush and left it at that? Where would I be and where would she be — what would life be like?”
But he said he couldn’t envision this alternate reality. “I can never see more than the question.”