Their story shocked the world 22 years ago when she, then a 34-year-old teacher, admitted to having sex with him, her 12-year-old student.

But despite going on to marry and have children with Vili Fualaau, the schoolboy she took as a lover in 1996, Mary Kay Letourneau is still emotional about the harsh and widespread criticism she received when the story broke.

In a new interview with A&E for its docuseries Biography, Letourneau, now 56, breaks down in sobs as she recalls the "media carnage" their relationship triggered, according to the Daily Mail.

Mary Kay Letourneau weeps in a promo for a forthcoming docuseries about her relationship with her student-turned-husband. Photo / A&E
Mary Kay Letourneau weeps in a promo for a forthcoming docuseries about her relationship with her student-turned-husband. Photo / A&E

"It's shock value. That's what it was all about. Shock. I call it media carnage. Road kill. Blood.

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"Everybody wants to hear the story. Whether it's because they want to analyse it or criticise it. It's been 20 years but it's still there," she wept in a preview for the episode.

Letourneau went on to claim the media's portrayal of their relationship was incorrect, claiming that Fualauu was "eighth grade, age wise" when they started having relations.
It is widely reported, and has been for decades, that the sexual relationship began when he was 12.

"It's not how it's portrayed, sixth grade, in the media. When anything developed in our relationship, he was entering the eighth grade age wise. Sounds young, I get it. It was young, I get it," she said.

Fualaau, now 34, also appears in the show.

Vili Fualaau also participated in the docuseries. He reflected on their relationship and said he 'wasn't thinking' when they started having sex when he was 12 and she was 34. Photo / A&E
Vili Fualaau also participated in the docuseries. He reflected on their relationship and said he 'wasn't thinking' when they started having sex when he was 12 and she was 34. Photo / A&E

In one soundbite from the teaser, he reflects on when he and Letourneau began their relationship, saying: "The age difference, all of that stuff, wasn't going through my mind.

"All of the things that should have gone through my mind at the time weren't going through my mind."

Letourneau also pointed to how uncomfortable it can be for the couple when they are asked about their relationship.

"People ask how I met my husband and how did it turn into romance. How did you two fall in love?"

In recent years, their romance has come under increased scrutiny after he filed for separation then withdrew the request. They remain married with two daughters.

In 1996, Fualaau was one of the children in Letourneau's class at Shorewood Elementary School in Burien, Washington.

Their relationship turned sexual and in 1997, she was arrested for child rape after a relative of her husband, Steve Letourneau, contacted police.

The pair began their relationship when he was 12 and her student and she was his 34-year-old married teacher. They are pictured in the 1990s.
The pair began their relationship when he was 12 and her student and she was his 34-year-old married teacher. They are pictured in the 1990s.

In recent years, their relationship has been more tumultuous.

In February, Fualaau was arrested and charged with DUI. At the time, police said he crashed his car into three smaller vehicles and that his wife tried to stop him from talking to police afterwards.

Fualaau was just a sixth-grade student when he began having an affair with Letourneau in 1996, despite the fact that his then-34-year-old teacher was married and had four young children.

The couple first met when Fualaau was in Letourneau's second grade class in Seattle, but did not begin to have a sexual relationship until four years later, when he was 12.

Letourneau ultimately got a divorce from her first husband and served seven years in prison to be with Fualaau, whom she married shortly after her release.

She gave birth to the couple's first child while on bail in 1997, and their second while in prison.

As of last year, Fualaau worked at a home and garden centre while Letourneau was employed as a legal assistant, unable to teach due to her status as a sex offender.

Fualaau has also been working to get his DJ career up and running, spinning at a local bar on weeknights under the name DJ Headline. The pair have also hosted Hot for Teacher nights at a local bar.

Their interview with A&E is not their first.

In 2015, to commemorate their tenth wedding anniversary, they sat down with Barbara Walters for the 20/20 special American Scandal.

In that interview, Letourneau said that the relationship between the two did not start until after the school year was over, and that it quickly became physical..

"The incident was a late night that it didn't stop with a kiss. And I thought that it would and it didn't," said Letourneau.

"I loved him very much, and I kind of thought, 'Why can't it ever just be a kiss?'"

 Mary Kay LeTourneau listens to testimony during a court hearing in Seattle, in this Feb. 6, 1998. Photo / AP
Mary Kay LeTourneau listens to testimony during a court hearing in Seattle, in this Feb. 6, 1998. Photo / AP

By the time Fualaau was 13, Letourneau was pregnant, but she managed to keep everything under wraps until the following year, when her husband found a love letter sent by the pre-teen.

He quickly alerted the authorities who questioned Fualaau and later arrested Letourneau, whose husband stood by her side through that first sentencing and the public ridicule which followed as news of the relationship became public.

Fualaau was a troubled Samoan boy from a broken home living in a rough part of Seattle. His father served time in prison for an armed robbery, and he had a difficult relationship with his mother.

Letourneau by comparison was living what appeared to be a picture-perfect life with her two sons, two daughters and handsome husband.

The teacher stayed committed to Fualaau, and while out on bail she gave birth to their daughter Audrey.

Three months later she entered a guilty plea to charges of second-degree child rape and was sentenced to six months in prison.

She was paroled however after three months on the condition that she stay away from Fualaau, a condition she quickly broke when the two were discovered having sex in a car just weeks after her release.

Letourneau then began to serve her seven-year prison sentence, during which time she gave birth to the couple's second daughter, Georgia.

After the birth of her second child with Fualaau, Letourneau's husband filed for divorce and moved to Alaska with the couple's four children.

She remains close to her four children from her first marriage, and told Walters: "All of our holidays were always together, and they're very close with their sisters."

Fualaau did admit in that interview however that it was awkward being less than two years older than his wife's oldest son.

Being a father at such a young age and bringing up the girls without Letourneau was a struggle, Fualaau told Walters during their 2015 interview.

Mary Letourneau, 43, and her fiance Vili Fualaau, 22, and their two children drive along the beach from their home on May 8, 2005 in the Seattle suburb Normandy Park, Washington. Photo / Getty Images
Mary Letourneau, 43, and her fiance Vili Fualaau, 22, and their two children drive along the beach from their home on May 8, 2005 in the Seattle suburb Normandy Park, Washington. Photo / Getty Images

He was eventually forced to drop out of high school and slipped into a depression, stating that at one point he battled alcoholism.

"I don't feel like I had the right support or the right help behind me," he said. "From my family, from anyone in general. I mean, my friends couldn't help me because they had no idea what, what it was like to be a parent, I mean, because we were all 14, 15."

He was not allowed to visit Letourneau while she was in prison but he believes contact with her would've helped him. She was the only person he really needed to talk to, he said.

"I mean, if they gave me more options or choices to make instead of just saying, 'Oh, you can't talk to her anymore,' and I was like, 'I really do want to talk to her, though,'' he said.

"I'm surprised I'm still alive today. I went through a really dark time."

Letourneau was released in August 2004, and married Fualaau in May the following year, by which time her former student was a 21-year-old adult.

Then, in a move that shocked many, she opted to remain in the community where she had lived with her ex-husband and four children.

The couple's two daughters, Audrey and Georgia, also joined them for their 2015 interview with Walters.

Both girls said that they attend school and sing in a choir in the same district where their mother once taught. Audrey graduated high school that June, while Georgia graduates next month.

The Fualaau sisters said their parents have told them how they met, but they were not taken aback by the scandalous circumstances surrounding their mom and dad's relationship.

 Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau during a photo shoot at her beach front home April 27, 2006 in Normandy Park, Washington. Photo / Getty Images
Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau during a photo shoot at her beach front home April 27, 2006 in Normandy Park, Washington. Photo / Getty Images

"There was never a sit-down chat, 'Now is the time we're going to talk to our children about this,'"explained their mother.

"They seemed to already know ... because they grew up with it."

Letourneau and Fualaau also revealed in 2015 that despite their age difference most of their arguments revolve around child-rearing these days.

"He told them [Audrey and Georgia] several years ago that they are not permitted to have a boyfriend, and I thought to myself, 'That's not gonna work,'" said Letourneau with a smile.

Fualaau seems to have gotten past that, and can be seen in numerous photos with his daughter Audrey and her boyfriend on Facebook.