Mary Kay Letourneau 'Hopeful' She Can Fix Marriage with Her Student-Turned-Husband, Vili Fualaau

The notorious couple has repeatedly been spotted together around the Seattle area and sources have told PEOPLE that they're working on their relationship

A year ago, Vili Fualaau grabbed national headlines when he filed for legal separation from his wife, former school teacher and sex offender Mary Kay Letourneau.

But things aren’t over. The couple has repeatedly been spotted together around the Seattle area. Sources close to them have told PEOPLE that they’re working on their marriage — and still in love.

On Tuesday night’s Autobiography on A&E, Fualaau, now 34, declined to address the split directly. When asked about it by a producer, he sheepishly smiled while Letourneau said, “We’re not talking about that.”

While the couple themselves wouldn’t address it, their inner circle was given the green light to speak frankly about what went wrong in their notorious coupling.

“When the news came out that he filed for separation, people were stunned,” friend Anne Bremner told the show. “They’d been together all this time.”

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“I’m gonna tell you why she refuses to speak about it,” added longtime friend Mark Greenberg. “It’s because she doesn’t know the answer to it. She’s living in hope. Mary wants this relationship to work. Vili’s in his mid-30s, and Mary’s in her mid-50s, and you just have to relate it to anyone else you know and their relationship issues.”

“Mary’s hopeful,” Greenberg continued. “She loves Vili. There’s absolutely no question about that.”

David Gehrke, another friend, said the two are “in counseling” and still “living together.”

“They’re working on their problems,” he said. “Everybody wants a good love story, and generally when you’re caught up in this situation, there’s no way it can end up happy, even if it was love.”

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The endurance of Letourneau’s connection to Fualaau is, to some outside observers, one improbable fact among many.

Their relationship started when when she was 34 and he was her 12-year-old sixth-grade student. Following a guilty plea for felony second-degree rape of a child, Letourneau was sentenced to six months behind bars, with three months suspended, and told to have no contact with Fualaau for life. But she was unable to stay away from him and was re-arrested when she was caught having sex with him, again, in a car.

Letourneau was sent back to prison and was released in 2004. She twice became pregnant with Fualaau’s child when he was underage. The couple eventually married and raised their two daughters together.

On Autobiography this week, she eventually agreed to speak in generalities about the state of her marriage.

“There is a labor in love,” she said. “Anyone who’s making love work in a marriage knows it’s work.”

Mary Kay Letourneau: Autobiography aired Tuesday and is available on demand and on A&E’s website. It will be rebroadcast throughout the month.

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