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Interview With Mary Kay Letourneau

Aired October 11, 2004 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Mary Kay Letourneau, in her first and only live interview since she finished serving seven and a half years in jail for having sex with her 13-year-old former student. Mary Kay Letourneau, the mother of his two children, and she says she's still in love with him and she's here for the hour. And we'll take your phone calls. Mary Kay Letourneau is next on LARRY KING LIVE.
We are in Seattle, Washington. Mary Kay Letourneau is our guest. She served seven and a half years in prison for what was termed child rape of her former student Vili -- how do we pronounce his last name?


KING: Fualaau. I met him the other day. Very nice young man. He's 21 years old now, huh?


KING: What's life like for you, Mary? What is life like for you? You've been out of prison two months.

LETOURNEAU: Right now...

KING: Yes.

LETOURNEAU: ... it's not much. It's not very normal. I'm not in my own place. But I have been blessed to be taken into a house right now.

KING: What kind of a house?

LETOURNEAU: Oh, it's a couple that owns a house. And I am able to stay there right now until I can get my own place. So I feel very fortunate, but it's hard to get into a normal routine of life when you're in somebody else's home.

KING: And they're allowing you just to be their -- their guest?


KING: I see, it's not by law. You could have your own place?

LETOURNEAU: I could and I will, hopefully soon.

KING: Are you going to go to work?

LETOURNEAU: I hope so.

KING: What do you want to do?

LETOURNEAU: Well, soon, and hopefully very soon, I'm going to be -- well, for sure, I am going to be interviewing this week for a volunteer program that helps incarcerated women.

KING: Is that part of your community service, or you're not required to do that?

LETOURNEAU: Actually, it is a requirement, either to be working in a volunteer manner, or actually working. So but even if it wasn't a requirement, I like to stay really productive, and so I'm anxious to interview with this woman and get busy.

KING: Do you get to see your children with Vili?

LETOURNEAU: We see our children together, mostly.

KING: How often?

LETOURNEAU: Oh, at least a few times a week.

KING: But there's no restrictions placed on that?

LETOURNEAU: No. But we are working right now with family courts to make things easier for all of us.

KING: And the children are with his mother?


KING: What's that like for him, for you, for them? I mean, they're not with their mother?

LETOURNEAU: I'm sure that as much as an adjustment as it is just for me to be out, it's -- I'm sure an adjustment for the little girls. All of my children. This is a really -- it's a hard time for all of us. It's new.

KING: For everybody then, right?

LETOURNEAU: Yeah. It's really, really hard.

KING: Did you know that this -- I mean, couldn't you read in advance that this was going to be a big problem?

LETOURNEAU: In advance? When the relationship started?

KING: When -- yeah, when the relationship started, did you say to yourself, this could be trouble?

LETOURNEAU: I thought this could be trouble, because it's not really a social norm, but I didn't -- I didn't have an idea -- I didn't believe that it was a felony. It just -- I knew it just didn't -- just wasn't normal. KING: You never thought you were committing a crime, though, to yourself?


KING: Maybe it wasn't the social norm, but you didn't say to yourself, I'm a criminal?

LETOURNEAU: No, not at all. If anyone had ever said, hey, this is a felony, regardless of who initiated the relationship, you're the adult, and this is a felony, there isn't any -- any way that I would have got involved. It's not that I wouldn't have still had feelings, or that he wouldn't still have feelings, but -- I don't know -- I don't know how anyone -- I don't know how anyone does something knowing something's a felony.

KING: OK. Explain, I guess, to people, the hardest thing that anyone would have to understand is, when you have this feeling, you were how old? He was 13, you were?

LETOURNEAU: Thirty-four.

KING: Thirty-four. And you were divorced or separated from your husband?

LETOURNEAU: Separated, and knowing a divorce...

KING: Was imminent, right?


KING: And you had how many children with him?


KING: Four children. So you were unhappily married, but a loving mother, loved your children, you're teaching class. You first met Vili when he was younger, right? He was in second grade?

LETOURNEAU: I did. I don't remember him very much.

KING: And then you were teaching him when he was at what, seventh grade, I guess?

LETOURNEAU: It was sixth grade.

KING: Sixth grade. All right. When you had those first feelings, how you do explain them to yourself? Not that we've ever been able to understand love, but when it's someone that much younger, who's still a young boy, how do you explain it to yourself?

LETOURNEAU: I didn't think about the age. I thought about running, far and fast, just because I didn't want -- I didn't want to be in love at that time in my life.

KING: So when you were attracted, you wanted to run away from the attraction?

LETOURNEAU: Well, yeah. I thought, well, this is -- this can't be, not now in my life, just -- yeah, I did want to.

KING: So how did it start?

LETOURNEAU: The relationship?

KING: Yeah. You wanted to run away. Did he come to you? I mean, what happened, Mar?

LETOURNEAU: A million moments that just kept building something very beautiful and scary at the same time.

KING: Were you teaching him every day? Was he in your class every day?

LETOURNEAU: He was in my class every day and he was very disruptive. So I don't know that I can say I was teaching him.

KING: He was disruptive to your mind or a disruptive kid?

LETOURNEAU: He was disruptive to the class.

KING: He was? You would have failed him?

LETOURNEAU: Yeah, I would have.

KING: By disruptive, you mean he didn't work and play well with others, he spoke out of turn, he was a bad student?

LETOURNEAU: He just wasn't -- he's not really -- he doesn't learn in a standard way, so it's hard to -- it's hard for him to stay focused.

KING: Right. So you've got this disruptive student who you're also attracted to, right?

LETOURNEAU: I didn't actually even recognize it as an attraction at first.

KING: But what happened?

LETOURNEAU: Well, we just became very close. It seemed -- we had a really compatible sense of humor. And just our perspective on life and...

KING: When was the first time you were alone?

LETOURNEAU: Alone? You mean, in a...

KING: In anywhere.

LETOURNEAU: ... in an intimate way?

KING: Yeah, I mean, did he come to your house? Did you go to his -- I mean, how does a 34-year-old and a 13-year-old get together? What do they do?

LETOURNEAU: Well, all the normal things, except obviously, you know, we don't go to a place that's like a bar, a drinking establishment...

KING: Right.

LETOURNEAU: ... because there's a 21-year-old...

KING: But I mean, did you go to dinner? Did you go to eat? Did you -- how did the relationship develop?

LETOURNEAU: OK. After he -- after he wasn't a student of mine, summer started, and we were both in an art class at the community college, so we were attending the art class. It's an interest we both have. And we also -- we already had a very close relationship, and so we had many summer days and evenings together, centered around, just well, for one, we wanted to be with each other, just in the company of each other, and also, then we had this art class that...

KING: And he paints now, right?

LETOURNEAU: He draws. He doesn't just do one style of art. He's just an artist, all-around.

KING: We'll go to break, we'll be right back. We're in Seattle with Mary Kay Letourneau. We'll be taking your phone calls at the bottom of the hour. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She served nearly seven years in prison for raping her former sixth-grade student. Now, as Mary Kay Letourneau is about to walk free, her former victim, Vili Fualaau, is still professing his love.

What is your emotional reaction to Mary getting out of prison?

VILI FUALAAU: Kind of nervous. I don't know what my feelings are right now, but I know I do love her.




LETOURNEAU: Your honor, I did something that I had no right to do. Morally or legally. It was wrong. And I am sorry. I give you my word that it will not happen again. Please, please help me. Help us, help us all.


KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. We're in Seattle. Laura Bush tomorrow night when we're live in Phoenix. Our guest is Mary Kay Letourneau. Tell me about that time when you were first intimate, what did it feel like to you? Was it all on your mind his age? Was that a conscious thing?

LETOURNEAU: There wasn't anything -- no. There wasn't anything in my mind like that. We were already so connected, just as people.

KING: So -- let's say after the first time you have sex, do you say to yourself, do you look in the mirror and say, what am I into now? This is a young man, I'm approaching middle-aged woman. Did you question yourself? Forget legality.

LETOURNEAU: Probably. It was just -- we were so much in love, I think I was thinking about a lot, about the situation I was in with my marriage, and the divorce, and I definitely was thinking, this is not the right time, but...

KING: But the power was too great?

LETOURNEAU: When you have someone in your life and you have that type of oneness, it's...

KING: The feeling was so overpowering?


KING: That it took control of logic, which is what love often does, right?

LETOURNEAU: Well, probably. I mean, I still felt it -- I still felt I was logically working through the situation.

KING: What about...

LETOURNEAU: All of the situations.

KING: What about Vili? How was he dealing with it? It had to be, for want of a better term, weird to him, right?

LETOURNEAU: Probably. I think he was -- I'm sure he was taken, as well as, you know, as I was. And I knew that he needed to be in school and focused on school, and I wanted him -- I wanted him to be, and he was so insistent that this isn't what his life is about, that that isn't what his life is about. So I did a lot of convincing to...

KING: Get him to stay in school?

LETOURNEAU: Get him to stay in school. I also wanted him to have experiences with people his own age...

KING: Did you at any point plan a life together?

LETOURNEAU: I was really pushing for give me some time to get my -- to get my life together, which would be to finish the divorce, and to get settled in another career.

KING: And he didn't want to do that? LETOURNEAU: No. He didn't want to do that at all.

KING: Did you get pregnant at this time?

LETOURNEAU: Right about that time, yes.

KING: What did that do to you? How did you react to that? Did you think about an abortion?


KING: Not at all? Because of Catholic upbringing or just you wanted to have his baby?

LETOURNEAU: No. I didn't think about an abortion and neither did he. That's one of those things that just got twisted in the media somehow. But neither of us were considering that. I felt that I was -- was a competent mother. I knew it would be difficult. I would now have five children and not four, but I was going to be a single mother, and...

KING: But what prospects would he have as a father at that age?

LETOURNEAU: Years down the line, I knew how interested he was, and I expected -- I know the heritage, culture that he comes from, I knew that he would always be interested. I didn't -- I wasn't counting -- I also wasn't counting on -- I loved him so much, I just, whatever was best for him in his life if...

KING: If he'd have wanted an abortion, you'd have had one?

LETOURNEAU: No. I'm talking about the direction of his life. If it wasn't with me after a time...

KING: You would have accepted that?

LETOURNEAU: Oh, I would have definitely accepted that. Whatever -- I just had so much respect in him and his future that...

KING: How were you, for want of a better term, caught? What happened? How did this come to public light?

LETOURNEAU: Well, I was pregnant. And my plan was to take maternity leave toward the end of that next school year, and get into a new career.

KING: You didn't have to tell anyone who the father was, right? That was your business.

LETOURNEAU: I felt it was my business and I didn't know -- I didn't know it was a felony like I said I didn't...

KING: So how did the public find out about you and him? Did you then...

LETOURNEAU: That would have been my husband. KING: He revealed it to the press?

LETOURNEAU: Well, he very much did not want me to continue the pregnancy, regardless of the fact that we were not going to be together. And I believe that would have been the case no matter what age the person I was with. He just did not want me to have another person's child.

KING: So when charges were brought against you, can you say you were shocked?

LETOURNEAU: At that time, no. Because I did find out -- I did find out during the pregnancy that -- that the adult in the situation, in the state of Washington, no matter what the circumstance, who the aggressor, who the initiator, the adult is always held responsible in the law for the relationship. So, I just -- I still didn't know it was a felony, like prison. I knew it was against the law and I didn't find out the time frame on a felony like that until I met with an attorney, which was after the charges were brought. So...

KING: And it fit the time frame?

LETOURNEAU: No. The time frame, the prison term, I didn't find out...

KING: That you would have to serve? You thought it was a misdemeanor or something, like a fine?

LETOURNEAU: Honestly, I didn't know the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony. I found out it was a crime.

KING: Then they plea bargained this, right? You agreed to a small sentence, right?

LETOURNEAU: No. That's not correct.

KING: What did happen?

LETOURNEAU: The charges -- OK, first, I'm pretty knowledgeable in a lot of areas, but in the legal arena I really knew nothing, and I learned a lot. And anyhow, I got -- I was given the charges, and they went through my attorney. He could have plea bargained. He didn't know a lot about that particular -- those particular types of crimes.

KING: So the result was what?

LETOURNEAU: The results -- the result was a felony charge. And they title it -- they title it rape of a child. It doesn't -- the elements to be convicted are just, one was a minor, one was an adult, and they were not married, so it doesn't really fit the title. But...

KING: But you didn't get a long sentence from that, right?

LETOURNEAU: I did, I got 89 months, but it was suspended with the condition that I go into a treatment. I was going to get a short jail term. Jail is different from prison. I was going to get a short jail term, and then go into a treatment and...

KING: And not see him?

LETOURNEAU: Yes. But I did not -- I did not know what that treatment entailed until...

KING: We'll find out in a minute. We'll be right back with Mary Kay Letourneau, where we'll be taking your calls. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ms. Letourneau, you are being granted the opportunity for treatment in the community, rather than in prison. Whether you stay out of prison is completely within your hands. It will not be easy.



KING: We're back with Mary Kay Letourneau. What treatment did they want you to do?

LETOURNEAU: Well, it's called sex offender treatment. And I didn't -- at first, I didn't care what it was as long as I stayed -- as long as I didn't go to prison and I could be with my children.

KING: So you'd agree to anything.

LETOURNEAU: Oh, yeah, I figured I could take anything.

KING: Did you start the treatment?

LETOURNEAU: No, I didn't.

KING: How much time did you serve?

LETOURNEAU: I served some -- I served my jail time. And after I was sentenced, the man that was going to be in charge of the treatment, he came to see me for the first time -- this is after the charges, the plea and the sentencing, after I had made the deal. And I met him for the first time, and he said that I would not see my children. A minimum -- well, at that time, it would have been eight months, not any contact, not even a message through my mother, that I love you, through my mother to my children. And it was...

KING: So you didn't agree to that?

LETOURNEAU: Well, I didn't tell anyone at the time. I thought, I'm going to prison because I felt like I had been deceived (UNINTELLIGIBLE) process.

KING: So you got out, you weren't supposed to see Vili, and then you saw him again, right? That's what threw the whole apple cart out, right?

LETOURNEAU: Oh, it didn't matter, because I had already had contact with my children, which was against the rules anyway.

KING: I see.

LETOURNEAU: So I wasn't -- I just wasn't -- I wasn't going along with it.

KING: You were caught with Vili in a parked car? Who -- somebody saw you?

LETOURNEAU: Well, what happened is I was -- I was getting things from the back seat to the front seat. I was just about to go in the house, but I had put the bags on the floor. And one of the bags was pushed onto the brake pedal, so an officer just doing a routine -- I was in front of my own house, so it didn't -- there was nothing going -- there was -- and we weren't -- you know, we weren't doing anything.

KING: You weren't making love?

LETOURNEAU: No. I was just getting -- we were just talking, I was getting my things together. But he circled around and he came around again, he saw the brake lights were still on, and so he thought it was a little suspicious. So -- and then he -- hello, Ms. Letourneau, you know.

KING: He knew you.

LETOURNEAU: Yes, and who's this young man next to you? And of course, that was not right.

KING: And then you spent seven and a half years in prison, right?


KING: What was that like?

LETOURNEAU: Well, I never expected to spend that much time there. I thought I would be there long enough for my appeal to go through. And I did have one appeal go through. And it was a success, but it didn't have anything to do with the length of my time. There were other issues.

KING: Did Vili come to visit you, or wasn't allowed to?

LETOURNEAU: No, I had a no-contact order with him.

KING: So you didn't talk to him or see him for seven and a half years?

LETOURNEAU: I did, and I got in trouble. So we had contact...

KING: How?

LETOURNEAU: Well, people helping us to...

KING: You'd write a note, someone would get it to him? LETOURNEAU: Yeah. He sent a message into me about where to contact him and where to write to.

KING: So the love never faded?

LETOURNEAU: There was a time period, after the civil trial, it was really hard for me, and we didn't have contact. And the reason -- what -- see, if I would get in trouble talking to him, then I wouldn't be able to see my children and -- at the prison, and so...

KING: Too big a risk.

LETOURNEAU: Yeah, it was. So I didn't take that.

KING: So the children would come to visit you in prison?

LETOURNEAU: My older children and the younger ones. The younger ones were very close, I saw them quite a bit.

KING: The younger ones are how old now?

LETOURNEAU: They are -- our youngest will be 6 next week or this week, on the 16th. And our oldest is seven and a half.

KING: Do they know this story?

LETOURNEAU: Pretty much. I mean, the story is that their mother was away at prison. And now, finally, their mommy and daddy are back together. And that's the story. And I've told my oldest one, at least, that, you know, mommy's doing a time-out.

KING: And what about the older children from the first marriage, have they handled this well?

LETOURNEAU: I'm sure that me going to prison was as hard as death of a parent, so.,

KING: Do you see them now?

LETOURNEAU: Well, I'm hopefully going to see my youngest -- in my first family, my two youngest. And my son is set to come this Wednesday, my oldest son. He can come whenever he'd like, and I've already seen my oldest daughter. She was here the first weekend I was out.

KING: Mary Kay Letourneau. We'll be right back. We'll include your phone calls. More to come. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Less than three months ago, you were given the opportunity, Miss Letourneau, for treatment. Within weeks of your release from jail, you purposely violated the conditions of your sentence. These violations are extraordinarily egregious, and profoundly disturbing. This case is not about a flawed system, it is about an opportunity that you foolishly squandered. The suspended sentence is hereby revoked, and the original sentence that I imposed, not long ago, of 89 months is imposed.



KING: We're live in Seattle with Mary Kay Letourneau. A couple of other things. We'll take some calls. You're not allowed to leave Washington?

LETOURNEAU: I can, with a special trip permit. It'd have to be for a really legislative reason.

KING: You've had an extraordinary life. You lost a younger brother who was just 3, right?

LETOURNEAU: Did. I didn't like how that was -- It was really misrepresented on the Barbara Walters show. I wasn't watching my brother baby-sitting. I don't know where that came from. That's like a tabloid version of...

KING: You weren't responsible for his death is what you're saying?

LETOURNEAU: I'm not sure where that came from, except there just a lot of --

KING: Were you there when he died?

LETOURNEAU: I was. The whole family was there. It's tragedy that I have no intention of taking the sacredness from my family history and talking about it, actually.

KING: Your father ran for president on the American Independent Party, right, in 1972, very conservative, passed away recently. He had a second family, right?


KING: Do you ever look in a mirror and say, my life has been tumultuous?

LETOURNEAU: No, I think my life has been blessed and...

KING: Blessed?

LETOURNEAU: It is. I'm healthy. My children are healthy. And I still have a mother. And I come from a very loving family. And I have Vili.

KING: You have Vili.

LETOURNEAU: I mean, it's tragic, that things that have happened, but...

KING: Would you be open... LETOURNEAU: I don't think any negative thoughts about my life. There's sorrow there for -- you mean a lot of grieving in spots definitely, but I know how to bring joy and peace inside here, just doing my best everyday.

KING: Would you be open if one of your younger children got involved with an older person?

LETOURNEAU: Would I be what?

KING: Open to it?

LETOURNEAU: Well, I would be listening to my children for sure. I would take the time to listen and see what's going on.

KING: And being involved? You would be involved?

LETOURNEAU: I would be surprised.

KING: Lets take a call.

Philadelphia for Mary Kay Letourneau. Hello. Hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Yes. Go ahead.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. I would like to ask is there any kind of training a teacher goes through to define the difference between appropriate and inappropriate relationships with children. And also, I'm just want curious to know where Vili's parents were or what they thought he was doing during the time he's was meeting with Mary Kay. Thank you.

KING: Two good questions, thank you. Are teachers taught about appropriate and inappropriate behavior with students?

LETOURNEAU: Teachers are -- they are taught. One of the things that we're also instructed, particularly during that time, is what to do when a student is inappropriate or sexually aggressive. We're taught what to do in that situation, too. And I didn't handle that very well.

KING: What about Vili's parents, during all of this?

LETOURNEAU: Vili's parents, Vili's father, right now is in Samoa. At the time I believe he was in prison. And he hasn't been with the family for a while.

KING: But the mother has...

LETOURNEAU: The mother, she's very hard working...

KING: She was the children with her, right?

LETOURNEAU: She -- well, she was working two jobs, and... KING: Do you have any relationship with her?

LETOURNEAU: I do. And I'm hoping after that long estrangement, me being away, that we will have a better relationship, a closer relationship.

KING: Was she angry at you?

LETOURNEAU: At first she was mainly angry that something like -- something like this was taken to the state to handle, when the families could have handled it.

KING: You feel that, too, right?

LETOURNEAU: I feel that, yes.

KING: Las Vegas, Nevada, hello. Las Vegas, hello.

CALLER: Hi. My question is, how do her four older children and her mother and siblings feel about her relationship with Vili?

Do they support her?

KING: The older children.

LETOURNEAU: My older children and my mother and immediate family?

KING: Uh-huh.

LETOURNEAU: I would say that -- that they accept it, my immediate family. They accept it because they pretty much have to. And I know they're very interested in -- in my happiness, and reunification of the entire family. My older children, we have a lot -- we have a lot of healing, just from the separation. And...

KING: Don't they have -- don't they have awkward feelings that their mother was involved with such a young boy? Just society. That society might look at it. Societally.

LETOURNEAU: I know that my children and I are going to work very closely through this, and use as many resources as we have to to make sure we grow through this in a healthy way. I'm very -- I'm very sensitive to each of my older children's developmental level and their understanding right now. I'm -- I'm there for them right now. They're in Alaska, but I stay very close in touch with them. And it's not -- it hasn't been appropriate to talk with my 10 and 12-year-old right now. I'll do that with their father, knowing, you know, that -- of course, I'll answer questions that they directly -- and I have answered questions.

KING: Do you talk to their father at all?

LETOURNEAU: Of course I do. We're working with our children.

KING: Do you have a cordial relationship? LETOURNEAU: We do. We can talk about the children.

KING: Do you and Vili want to get married?

LETOURNEAU: Yes, we do. Yes.

KING: Are you going to?

LETOURNEAU: Yes, we are.

KING: Nothing stops you, right? You can get married. He's of age, you're of age.

LETOURNEAU: Yes. It's our plan.

KING: I asked you before (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Is this a wedding ring, an engagement ring?

LETOURNEAU: This is my first ring before -- before I went into prison, during the relationship. This I recently got.

KING: This second ring looks like a wedding ring.


KING: Is it?

LETOURNEAU: That is an engagement ring.

KING: You're engaged?


KING: Do you have a date?

LETOURNEAU: Not that we're talking about, no.

KING: You mean publicly? Do you have one non-publicly?

LETOURNEAU: We have a time frame but not a specific date.

KING: But you are going to get married.


KING: We'll be right back with Mary Kay Letourneau. Don't go away.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clear the way. Clear the way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you be able to talk for a moment here?


KING: Before we take the next call, what's Vili doing now?

LETOURNEAU: Vili's helping to take care of me,

KING: Not working?

LETOURNEAU: Not now. It's hard for him to have a job right now, as it is for me. It's a big transition.

KING: How are you supporting yourself?

LETOURNEAU: Well, another blessing. My family -- my mother...

KING: Has some money?

LETOURNEAU: Came down. Well, it's not...

KING: I mean, it will help you?

LETOURNEAU: Yes. She came down and filled my refrigerator with a couple months worth of food, and...

KING: That's good. Before I ask about prison, San Diego, hello. San Diego, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. Hi, Mary, how are you? My question to you, Mary, is that do you feel that this was a very deep spiritual bond between you and Vili because I believe it was and truly is a deep spiritual bond for this all to happen to you.

KING: Thank you. Do you think it was deep spiritual bond?

LETOURNEAU: I don't think it was, I know it was and it is. And that's why we are -- it's not just a chemistry...

KING: Not just physical?

LETOURNEAU: Oh, not at all. And it always has been a deep spiritual oneness.

KING: Even from the start, when it was very physical, it was also very spiritual?

LETOURNEAU: No. It was spiritual first. And emotional and intellectual before anything ever went.

KING: Before you ever made love?


KING: Little Rock, Arkansas, hello.

CALLER: My question tonight is we often hear about how male sex offenders are treated so badly often that they have to be segregated from the general population. How was she treated by the other inmates? Was she treated as a common sex offender or were they more kind to her? Thank you.

KING: Thank you.

LETOURNEAU: At the prison? I think that when people meet me and even not meeting me, a lot of people have read through -- read between the lines on what was maybe fed through the media. And I have very, very many friends, still some close friends at the prison, friends that I have a lot of respect in, and they do with me. I worked in many leadership capacities at the prison with -- in the school. I ran a math lab there. There's a Toastmaster Club there that I worked on a team, you know, throughout the years. Wonderful choir. Just the bonding of the women. I've never felt any segregation...

KING: Never treated like -- male sex offenders get treated pretty poorly in prison. That's the general word we hear. You were not treated...

LETOURNEAU: Probably if there was some child abuse, I would imagine that...

KING: You weren't treated as a sexual predator?

LETOURNEAU: No. Because I'm not and I don't think anyone -- I don't think anyone ever believed that I was.

KING: Did anyone in prison ever come over to you and say, you're nuts or what were you doing, or you're crazy, or why did you do that?

LETOURNEAU: I think there were people that were curious. It's a community inside of there. Everybody is living and supporting the community in different job capacities. And it's women. It's mothers in there. They're -- we're bonded and supporting each other. And it's very emotional for the women in there of course. Everybody's estranged from their families. There is volunteer groups that come in, and they would like to get the women productive, because everybody's healthier when they're productive, but then the prison system is not -- doesn't really support being productive. They want to just push, push, push and submissify (ph) everyone.

KING: How did the authorities treat you, poorly?

LETOURNEAU: They had their -- they had some very clear objectives pretty much all the way through my time there.

KING: They were physical with you?

LETOURNEAU: Never physical but I think there are worse ways to treat people besides physically abusive so...

KING: Psychologically abusive? Cruel to you?

LETOURNEAU: It was pretty bad. But there are some decent staff members there. Some really decent staff members. And there's a very -- there's a wonderful superintendent there right now. But it hasn't always been like that.

KING: What prison was it?

LETOURNEAU: Washington Correctional Center for Women.

KING: You were a celebrity there though. Did that make a difference?

LETOURNEAU: I never considered myself that and...

KING: They did. They knew you. You were celebrated.

LETOURNEAU: People would sometimes say, oh, you're famous. I would say, no, infamous. There's a difference. And...

KING: Yeah.

LETOURNEAU: So I never felt...

KING: You never looked at yourself that way?

LETOURNEAU: No. I have never looked at myself that way. I just -- I actually appreciated being part of the community there and helping wherever I could. And I know that my closest friends just felt me as one of them, just one of their good friends.

KING: Back with our remaining moments with Mary Kay Letourneau here in Seattle. Laura Bush tomorrow night. Don't go away.


KING: One more quick call in. Lowell, Massachusetts. Hello. Lowell, Massachusetts, hello.

CALLER: Hello. Hello?

KING: Yes. Go ahead. Yes. Go ahead.

CALLER: OK, I'm wondering how she feels about supporting herself, her family, and how her family feels about this whole situation. It must be traumatic...

KING: We've asked about family feelings. But what are you going to do?

LETOURNEAU: To support myself, I would, well, as I said earlier in the show, I'm going to start volunteering with an organization, aid to incarcerated women.

KING: They will pay you?

LETOURNEAU: No. But that will -- it will get me into the work groove. I would again -- I'd like to work, not really as a paralegal, but as a strictly as a legal research assistant.

KING: You're not allowed to teach again, right?

LETOURNEAU: I can teach, I just can't teach in the public school system. I certainly could teach at a college level. In fact, I considered working in a math lab, teaching algebra at a community college here, just to start.

KING: That's what you did in prison?

LETOURNEAU: Yeah. What I did in prison.

KING: What was it like when you got out and you first were with Vili?

LETOURNEAU: I have to say that Vili right now, our relationship, and even right when we saw each other, it's the least stress in my life right now. Vili and I are just...

KING: Soulmates?

LETOURNEAU: Well, I think that's just an overused word. But we -- what it felt like -- and I know I have a -- one of my best friends in Chicago, I can go for a couple of years without talking to her, and I talk to her again or see her again, and it's just like there was no time in between. And it was like that. We were -- we are that close.

KING: So you're seven and a half years apart, and it was like...

LETOURNEAU: But at the same time, he left for a couple of days to California, and it was horrible. So it was just...

KING: So you miss him when you're not with him?

LETOURNEAU: Yeah. And you have to do what you have to do when there's a forced separation. So now, there isn't. And I can emotionally miss him, and I do when he's not there.

KING: Good luck to you, Mary.

LETOURNEAU: Oh, thank you, Larry. Thank you. Thank you for having me.

KING: Thank you.

Mary Kay Letourneau.

A good friend of ours passed away. He was a great man. I knew him for a long time, before the accident, as an actor and a person. Chris Reeve, at much too young age at 52. He spent many moments with me on the air. Here was one of them.


KING: Do you still think you will walk again?

CHRISTOPHER REEVE, ACTOR: I certainly have the motto that nothing is impossible. I think the question of whether I will walk is going to depend on politics, it's going to depend on collaborations between scientists around the world. It will depend on economics. A lot of factors that I knew very little about when I was injured eight years ago. And I think my purpose when I was 42, in saying that I would walk by the time I was 50, was to be provocative, to be a voice saying, why can't we do this? Don't tell me the reasons why not.


KING: Christopher Reeve, rest in peace.

See you tomorrow night, with Laura Bush. Wednesday night, following the debate, at 11:00 Eastern with an hour special.

Aaron Brown and "NEWSNIGHT" is next. From Seattle, good night.


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