Passover

As a former journalism student at the University of Maryland, I cringe more and more at what the corporate-dominated media holds up as legitimate news. Years ago I was a big fan of the newsmagazine 20/20 and I used to watch it weekly. I stopped watching it years ago and, this morning, this old news from the 1990’s popped up on my Facebook newsfeed that makes me not regret my decision. Basically Barbara Walters have interviewed Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau while gushing over the fact that this couple have been together for nearly 20 years, with 10 of those years being married, and they are raising two teenaged daughters. On top of it, Mary Kay is a 53-year-old woman of white European descent while Vili is a 31-year-old man of South Pacific Islander descent. On the surface, it sounds like a wonderful interracial love story with a May-December romance angle where it’s the woman who’s older.

Until you look it up on the Wikipedia and learn that this couple initially met when Vili was in the second grade and Mary Kay was his married teacher who had a child around the same age as Vili. The love affair sexual abuse gradually began when Vili was in another one of Mary Kay’s classes as a 12-year-old elementary school student and Mary Kay was 34 years old. Eventually it all came to light when she was pregnant with her fifth child and DNA tests proved that Vili was the father. She was convicted of child rape and sentenced to serve six months in prison. As a condition of her release, she was told not to have any further contact with Vili and if she did, she would be sent back to prison. She ignored that order, hooked up with Vili again, and promptly became pregnant with his second child. She was sentenced to an additional seven years in prison. By the time she was released, Vili Fualaau was over 18 and was trying to raise the two daughters he had with his former teacher. They got back together and were eventually married.

I’m sorry but after watching a small portion of that video of Barbara Walters essentially heralding this one as a romance for the ages, I really can’t support this at all. Mary Kay is a convicted child rapist who abused her teaching position to have unprotected sex with a young boy that resulted in him becoming a father twice before he turned 18. Thanks to her, Vili’s future was seriously compromised. Had she not given in to her urges and seduced this young boy while making him an underaged father in the process, who knows what he would’ve done. He could’ve gone on to college. Or maybe joined the military. He might have landed a high paying career. Or not. But we’ll never know for sure because Mary Kay didn’t keep her panties up around that kid.

Let’s reverse genders for one moment. What if Mary Kay had been a 34-year-old male teacher and Vili had been a 12-year-old girl? Would the media have turned this into a “Hot for Teacher” story of an older man tutoring a young girl in the ways of love a la Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita? Would Barbara Walters have interviewed that couple while trying to make it a May-December love story for the ages? Probably not. More likely Barbara Walters would’ve had nothing to do with that story and there would’ve been greater revulsion over how a man sexually abused a young girl and made her into an unwed teenage mother in the process.

Sexism and misogyny rules in this case and shame on Barbara Walters and ABC News for legitimizing pedophilia and child rape into a love story for the ages. Peter Jennings would turn over in his grave over this.

UPDATE (June 1, 2017): Vili Fualaau has announced that he is filing for a legal separation from Mary Kay. Apparently he’s trying to get into the legal marijuana business but he was unable to get a license because of his wife’s prison record (stemming from her sexual abuse of him). This headline in the British newspaper The Independent has got it right in its description of their relationship: Man divorces wife who raped him when he was 12 ‘in order to sell cannabis’. Unlike ABC and Barbara Walters, that paper isn’t calling it a “love story for the ages,” it is calling it for what it really is: rape.

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