Mary Kay LeTourneau, the former schoolteacher recently released after a 7 1/2-year prison term for having sex with one of her grade school students, now plans to marry the student.
LeTourneau told ABC News' Barbara Walters that she and her former student Vili Fualaau always planned to marry and their plans haven't changed. LeTourneau already had two daughters with Fualaau, now 21.
When her relationship with Fualaau began in 1996, LeTourneau was a 34-year-old married mother of four living in suburban Seattle. But her marriage was falling apart and she tells Walters she was feeling emotionally overwhelmed.
LeTourneau said she felt as if even the slightest setback was too much. "I had that feeling if I missed one light everything in my life might just crumble," LeTourneau said.
Teaching was a bright spot in her life. "When I was in the classroom, I absolutely knew that I was in the right place. I don't know how many people can walk into their work every day and say, 'I am in the right place.' And I could say that," she said.
An 'Emotional Attraction'
During this difficult period, Fualaau was a student in LeTourneau's class of sixth-graders. The two developed what she described as an "emotional attraction." She began spending extra time with Fualaau, who she said "had a unique gift in art."
LeTourneau spent more and more time with Fualaau, helping him to develop his gift for drawing. But an incident at the end of the school year, she says, changed everything.
"He just came straight out and said, 'Would you ever have an affair?' " LeTourneau said.
LeTourneau said she tried to resist the boy's flirtations, but admits now that she "felt a very deep love for him."
LeTourneau described an incident that led to the turning point in her relationship with the boy, when he was 13.
"He said, 'How old do you think you're going to be when you die?' And I said, 'Oh well, I'll probably be 100, like my grandmother,' and he said, 'Well, then I'm going to be 80 when I die, because I'm not living another day, on this Earth, without you.' "
LeTourneau said she realized that kids often develop crushes on their teachers, but said she felt Fualaau's feelings were different. Still, she said, "I was absolutely sure that there was nothing that he could do to persuade me to have an intimate relationship. I was going to be single, and I was going to have to get my life together, to take care of my four children and there was no place in that for a relationship. No matter what the age was of this person."
‘How Did It Get to This?’
But she says her resistance faded. LeTourneau says the affair began with a single incident — a kiss. "I thought, ''That's OK, but it's not going to go any further.' "
Not long after that initial kiss, the two had sex.
LeTourneau said she didn't feel guilty about having sex with her student. "I didn't feel any different than I had felt years earlier before I was married in a couple of situations with a few guys where I thought, 'How did it get to this?' "
In hindsight, LeTourneau tells Walters, she realizes the emotional struggle she was having due to her marital troubles may have drawn her to Fualaau.
"I knew it wasn't right. But Vili and I loved each other, and still do. But I believe very strongly there was a much healthier way to have worked through everything that was going on at the time. And it didn't happen that way. We didn't ask for help, and now, there's a lot of hurt, right now," she said.