Though Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau, the student she was convicted of raping in 1997, ended their marriage a year ago, a friend tells HL EXCLUSIVELY that he was by her side during her fatal cancer battle.
Mary Kay Letourneau, one of the most notorious people of the late 1990s, died on July 7 at age 58, following a battle with stage 4 colon cancer. The former teacher made headlines after pleading guilty to raping Vili Fualaau, 37, who, at the time, was her 12-year-old, sixth-grade student. After 14 years of marriage and welcoming two daughters together — Georgia, 21, and Audrey, 22, — Mary Kate and Vili separated in 2019. Despite this breakup, Julianna Wong, Mary Kay’s associated and dissolution lawyer, tells HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY that they remained very close and, “at the end of the day, they truly did love and respect one another.”
“I’ve known Mary for probably the last three or four years. I am currently her family law attorney for the separation matter with Vili,” the attorney tells HollywoodLife. “I had spoken with Mary Kay towards the end of May 2020, and that’s when she reported to me that she was sick.” Though the public knows Mary Kay from her high-profile trial and conviction, Juliana remembers her as “a vibrant, vivacious human. And I’ll have to tell you that she was one of the most devoted mothers out there.”
“If there was a legacy that could be left, it was her focus on her family,” adds Julianna. “She was extremely private. It may not seem like that because of a lot of the media stuff that has come out. But she was very, very private in a way of trying to protect her girls, really.”
HollywoodLife: Do you know when she was diagnosed?
Ms. Julianna Wong: It was fairly new I want to say it may have been in the later winter [that she was first diagnosed]
It’s been reported that Vili was there helping her? What is the status of their relationship?
That’s correct. Mary Kay did let me know that Vili was with her in Seattle and had been for several months. And he was supporting her and helping her and caring for her through her illness. It’s my impression that both of them were pretty devoted to one another despite their separation. And as a family unit — Mary Kay, Vili, Georgia, Audrey — they were all very, very close.
Had they reconciled?
I would not be able to confirm that.
You said they’re a super tight family unit. Do you know what her relationship was like with her older children?
From my understanding, she did spend the holidays with them. They did come and visit. She was in frequent contact with them.
Do you know if there is a service happening?
I haven’t heard anything about any kind of service. As far as Washington State, we are in what is considered phase two of the COVID pandemic orders, so it’s really limited in terms of availability of having a service if they were planning on having a larger service for her.
Is there anything you’d want to share about her? What was your take on her as a person, and what her legacy is?
I think that people are really holding on to the past, and the perception of Mary’s image is sort of stuck in the past. She was a vibrant, vivacious human. And I’ll have to tell you that she was one of the most devoted mothers out there. And she was committed to her partnership with Villi, as well. If there was a legacy that could be left, it was her focus on her family. She was extremely private. It may not seem like that because of a lot of the media stuff that has come out. But she was very, very private in a way of trying to protect her girls, really.
And it seems like Villi, despite their separation, was very devoted to her?
Yeah, I would say that’s correct. They were very mutually supportive of one another, and I think at the end of the day, they truly did love and respect one another. Mary was more of a human and a mother, and a partner than people would suspect her of being. And she was very kindhearted, and I know that to her closest friends she was a fantastic friend also.