Mary Kay Letourneau, the elementary school teacher who was convicted in 1996 of raping her sixth-grade student before ultimately marrying him, said in a new interview she didn’t know that her actions were criminal.
Appearing on Sunday Night on Australia’s Channel 7, Letourneau said she did not realize her actions were illegal.
“If someone had told me, if anyone had told me, there is a specific law that says this is a crime I did not know,” she told the show.
“I’ve said this over and over again. Had I’d known, if anyone knows my personality. Just the idea, this would count as a crime.”
When asked if she was wrongly convicted, Letourneau replied, “absolutely.”
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Their relationship started when she was 34 and Vili Fualaau 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 upom her release, she 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. Ultimately, she was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years behind bars for child rape in connection with their relationship and remains a registered sex offender in Washington state.
She twice became pregnant with Fualaau’s child when he was underage. The couple eventually married and raised their two daughters together.
Fualaau filed for legal separation from his Letourneau last year, but they were 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. They reconciled earlier this year.
In the interview, Letourneau said she’s hoping to be removed from the sex offenders’ registry.
Letourneau is now a paralegal at the same court where she faced trial 21 years ago. Fualaau has worked in a home improvement store and as a part-time DJ.