Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau’s decades-long relationship “was never a love story,” her childhood friend tells In Touch exclusively. 

“It was a tragic fantasy of a woman who was broken and unloved trying to find the love and fulfillment that she had never had in her life,” Michelle Lobdell says ahead of the premiere of ID’s Mary Kay LeTourneau: Notes on a Scandal. “Not from her parents, not from her family, not from, from anybody and obviously a friendship with another person, me, wasn’t capable of filling that role either.”

“People call it a love affair because that’s what Mary Kay wanted them to believe. That’s what Mary Kay wanted to believe. Mary Kay created a story, and I knew she would stick to it to the day she died,” Michelle continues. “It doesn’t matter what [happened], if she [hated] his guts, she [would] still claim he [was] the love of her life. … She desperately needed the fantasy of this love affair to be true.”

“She was going to make it true. She was going to force it to be true,” Michelle adds. “That’s why it was never a love story. And when people say it’s a love story, I just cringe. Because I know it wasn’t, and it does a disservice to Mary Kay and to Villi to claim it is one.” 

Michelle goes on to say that “she groomed him and created this magical love story.”

Letourneau was a former schoolteacher who infamously began an sexual affair with her former student Fualaau when he was just 12 years old. Letourneau was arrested in March 1997 after a relative of her first husband, Steve Letourneau, contacted the police about her relationship with Fualaau.

She ultimately pleaded guilty to two counts of felony second-degree rape of a child and gave birth to their first daughter, Audrey Lokelani Fualaau, that August, while awaiting sentencing. Letourneau was sentenced to six months in prison as part of a plea deal, three of which were suspended. 

Following her January 1997 release, Letourneau was caught violating the no-contact order and was arrested again just one month later. As Michelle puts it, “she had no respect whatsoever for the law or the court or anything that the state was telling her.” 

Letourneau was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for breaking her plea agreement. The couple’s second daughter, Georgia Fualaau, was born in October 1998 while her mother was behind bars. 

Letourneau and Fualaau tied the knot in May 2005, though they ultimately split in 2019

Growing up, Mary Kay was surrounded by “constant media attention” after her father, John Schmitz, had an affair with one of his students in 1982.

“She was a professional at putting on a show, and she was taught as a kid how to do that,” her former best friend says, adding that she carried that skill into adulthood. 

“I think Vili had a case of Stockholm syndrome,” Michelle claims. “Quite frankly, we’ll never know what Villi could have done or would’ve done if not for his relationship with her, because his relationship with her defined his entire life and still does.” 

Mary Kay LeTourneau died after a battle with colorectal cancer in July 2020. She was 58.

A rep for Vili did not immediately respond to In Touch‘s request for comment.

Mary Kay LeTourneau: Notes on a Scandal premieres Sunday, August 28 at 9/8c on ID & available to stream the same day on Discovery+.

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