Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau are again in the national spotlight. They're talking about the future of their controversial relationship in a bombshell interview. "Entertainment Tonight" licensed the exclusive rights to their story. The Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen sat down with "E.T."'s Jann Carl to get her impressions of the controversial couple. Here is what was revealed Friday on The Early Show.
Former teacher Letourneau's illicit 10-year affair with her student, Fualaau, has lasted to this day, even though she lost her job, her family and spent seven years in prison.
Letourneau, 43, served her prison sentence after she was convicted of raping Fualaau, now 22. She was released last August. The couple first met when he was in second grade. Their relationship became sexual when he was 12 and she was a 34-year-old married mother of four and an elementary school teacher.
The relationship between Letourneau and Fualaau unfolded before a national audience; it was extremely controversial and, as Carl points out, rightfully so. "But," she tells Chen, "I think what has happened through the years, that they've learned to lean on each other, depend on each other, and almost build up sort of a defense field around them."
Carl asked them if, as their wedding day approaches, there is an understanding that some people will have a hard time accepting their marriage because of how the relationship began.
Fualaau's response: "I could say it's not my problem. I could say that you can't please everyone. I could say, you know, I'm not going to let them ruin my happiness."
And Letourneau said, "I don't really have a concern about someone's opinion. If we extend it further than just an opinion, that's when there is a problem. Like anyone can say anything to me… but don't touch my kids. Our children, my children and us, as a couple, we have rights."
Carl tells Chen that, whenever she spoke to Letourneau about her children, "she really lit up."
Chen tells Carl, "That was actually one of the most intriguing moments of your interview. Vili and Mary Kay have two kids together. She has four kids from a previous marriage. I mean, they're essentially becoming a blended family here."
Carl agrees: "They are. And I think children are always looking to their parents for some sort of guidance, especially in the area of dating and all of that, relationships."
So Carl asked them: "What advice will you guys give your children about marriage, love, romance?
Said Fualaau, "Don't say you love someone to someone you don't love. She's (Letourneau is) the only person I've said it to. First and last."
Letourneau is planning on all of her children being at her wedding. She told Carl they are all excited about it. "Then my younger daughter saw a picture of my dress. And she just, she said, 'Oh, I want this dress, too, Mommy!' "
Chen asked Carl, "So after the big day, is she going to take his name?"
Carl's answer: "We asked her that. She said, absolutely, of course. She will become Mrs. Vili Fualaau very soon."
On Thursday, Chen's first question to Carl was: Are Letourneau and Fualaau getting married?
"They definitely are," reports Carl. "It's going to be a big wedding. They are planning a big party."
Carl was among the very first journalists to sit down with them together. Chen wanted to know what they are like as a couple.
"I didn't know what to expect," says Carl. "You definitely feel a very strong connection, Julie. I will go as far as to say you feel a strong love. And I asked them some interesting questions, that I think shows you that that connection is definitely very strong."
For instance, she asked Fualaau what he sees when he looks in Letourneau's eyes. His answer: "I see my youth. I see heaven."
Asked what she sees when she looks in Fualaau's eyes, Letourneau said: "There's a long, deep history there. And it's something so familiar to me, I just don't know what else to say about that. He's my life."
Carl tells Chen, "So, Julie, I think that even though you and I might not truly ever understand their relationship, I think you can see that they are connected and they're going to stay together."
For those who assume that Fualaau proposed to Letourneau on one knee as soon as she got out of prison, there is a surprise. He actually proposed to her eight years ago and even gave her a ring. Letourneau managed to hold on to the ring, even though, as she admitted to Carl, "It was very difficult to keep it under the circumstances. But I did."
To see more of Jann Carl's interview with Letourneau and Fualaau, tune in to "Entertainment Tonight" Friday evening and over the weekend.
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