After a child rape scandal, incarceration and a near-divorce, Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Faulaau are still going strong, 22 years after the then 34-year-old teacher started up a sexual relationship with her then 13-year-old student.
The relationship became a tabloid fixture of the late '90s, as the teacher became pregnant with the teen's children while her trial was still happening. She served seven and a half years in prison for their lurid affair -- but the two remained together after she got out. Speaking out in a new "Autobiography" for A&E, Letourneau gets emotional as she reflects on media coverage at the time.
"People ask how I met my husband, how did it turn into romance and how is it that you fell in love?" she says in this exclusive sneak peek at the special. Addressing the news and tabloid headlines from back in the day, she adds, "It's shock value, that's what it's all about, shock! I call it media carnage, road kill. Blood."
"It's not how it's portrayed, sixth grade, in the media, when anything developed in our relationship, he was entering the 8th grade, age wise," she says in another clip, trying to defend when and how everything unfolded. "Sounds young, I get it. Was young, I get it."
Vili appears in the special as well, where he admits he didn't understand the scope of things when they became sexual. "The age difference, all of that stuff wasn't going through my mind," he says. "A lot of things that should have gone through my mind at the time, weren't going through my mind."
"Everyone wants to hear this story, whether it's because they want to analyze it or criticize it," adds Letourneau, before breaking down. "20 years but it's still there."
The controversial couple tied the knot on May 20, 2005 and later had two kids together. In 2017, he filed for separation, but later withdrew the petition.
That separation rumor is just of the topics that comes up during the two-hour documentary, which A&E promises will show the two reflecting on their early relationship and Mary's "feelings of injustice and betrayal when she lost contact with her children and the effect her choices have had on both her and her family."
"Mary Kay Letourneau: Autobiography" airs Tuesday, May 29 at 8pm on A&E.