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Teacher Who Had Sex With Sixth-Grade Student Is Sentenced to Six Months in Jail Including 100

November 14, 1997

Teacher Who Had Sex With Sixth-Grade Student Is Sentenced to Six Months in Jail Including 100 Days Already Served

Mary Kay LeTourneau, 35, had pleaded guilty in August to two counts of second-degree child rape.

LeTourneau must serve the 80 days remaining in her six-month sentence before she is released for community-based treatment.

``I did something that I had no right to do,″ a tearful Mrs. LeTourneau told the court after sentencing. ``I give you my word it will not happen again. ... It was wrong and I am sorry.″

Superior Court Judge Linda Lau said she was persuaded that the defendant ``does not pose a risk to the community under this sentencing option.″

Lau ordered Mrs. LeTourneau to have no contact with the victim or any other minor unless it is expressly authorized by her sex-offender-treatment provider.

Any violation of conditions set by the court or the Corrections Department would result in her being imprisoned for 7 1/2 years, the judge said.

Lau cited the ``express wishes of the victim and his family″ in opting for the sentencing option for first-time offender proposed by defense attorney David Gehrke.

The mother of the boy _ 13 when the sexual relationship began _ read a letter to the court saying she is aware society does not approve of the relationship.

``Society does not wake up at 2 in the morning when the baby cries,″ the mother of the boy _ now 14 _ said in a letter she read to the court. She is caring for the baby girl born last spring.

She said her son will feel guilty about his role in the liaison ``as long as she is in jail.″

Prosecutors had sought a 6 1/2-year sentence _ in the middle of the standard-range penalty of from 5 1/2 to 7 1/2 years in prison.

In urging treatment, defense attorney David Gehrke said his client has already endured ``massive punishment.″

But Deputy Prosecutor Lynn Johnson said Mrs. LeTourneau remains in denial and is a poor candidate for treatment.

``She is an adult who sexually abused a boy″ and she still ``does not appreciate the wrongfulness of any of her behavior,″ Johnson said, contending that Mrs. LeTourneau ``blames the victim.″

Mrs. LeTourneau knew her actions were wrong morally and professionally, but took the risks in part because of her diagnosed ``hypomania,″ a type of bipolar depression, Gehrke told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

He also said her crime was ``much less harmful″ than those committed by other child rapists.

``It’s important for people to understand that when you say `convicted of rape of a child,′ the image that that conjures is not the case here,″ he said. ``The biggest difference is how the victim perceives it.″

Mrs. LeTourneau was a teacher in the Highline School District south of Seattle and a married mother of four when she began a sexual relationship with the boy in the summer of 1996, after his sixth-grade year.

``There was a respect, an insight, a spirit, an understanding between us that grew over time,″ Mrs. LeTourneau told The Seattle Times in a jail interview last summer.

The boy, now 14, has disputed the notion that he is a victim. He says they planned the pregnancy to affirm their bond, and exchanged rings. Their baby daughter, born in May, is being raised by the boy’s mother.

``I don’t condone what happened ... but it did happen and it’s something I have to accept and live with,″ the mother told The Seattle Times.

Mrs. LeTourneau said she still loves the boy, and he has told interviewers that he hopes they can be together one day.

Mrs. LeTourneau’s estranged husband, Steve LeTourneau _ now living in Alaska with their four children _ found love letters from the boy and confronted him. LeTourneau confided in family members, who went to authorities.

LeTourneau is seeking a divorce.

``I just want her to get help,″ he said in an October interview with the Orange County Register in California, where Mrs. LeTourneau grew up. Her father, John Schmidt, was a Republican congressman whose political career ended in 1983 when it was revealed that he had two children with a mistress.

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