By Leonard Pitts
Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau have set a date.
Middle of April, according to their online wedding gift registry. You can search it out on macys.com. Among other things, the kids would like a Delonghi Retro 4-Slice Toaster Oven — $99.99, in case you’re feeling generous. There is speculation that the couple — both unemployed — will sell television rights to the ceremony in order to pay for it. Fualaau also has expressed interest in writing a book about their affair.
Noel Soriano, a friend of the two, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer last week that all this is “long overdue. It’s going to be fabulous, seeing them get hitched finally.”
And Soriano added this thought: “They have gone through a lot. That they lasted this long proves how strong their love is.”
If you are not gagging on your Special K right now, I have to assume it’s because you don’t remember the story. Don’t remember that Letourneau began a sexual relationship with Fualaau in 1996, when she was a married, 34-year-old mother of four and he was her 12-year-old student. Don’t remember that shortly after she served her six-month sentence for child rape, she was at it again, caught having sex with Fualaau in a motor vehicle, for which she drew a just-completed 7 1/2-year sentence. Don’t remember that two children were born of this relationship. Don’t remember that she is a convicted rapist and he is her victim.
Or else, maybe it’s just that your capacity for outrage is gone, worn away by the excesses of an era in which fresh affronts arrive on your doorstep in the daily paper.
I hope that’s not the case. If anything ever deserved your indignation and condemnation, this is it.
Not that you and I getting hot and bothered will change anything. Fualaau is 22 now. He can wed any woman who’ll have him.
But that doesn’t relieve us of the moral obligation to shout down the suggestion implicit in Soriano’s comments that these two are Romeo and Juliet, star-crossed lovers racing for the finish line.
To find a bigger load of bull, you’d have to visit a stockyard.
Mentally stable 34-year-old women do not have sex with 12-year-old boys, period. Twelve-year-old boys ought not be having sex with anybody, period. At that age, one is still largely unformed, still emotionally undeveloped, still in the process of becoming.
So even if Vili Fualaau is earnest in wanting to marry this woman, we have to wonder to what degree that wanting is colored by what happened to him, what she did to him, when he was just a child. We have to remember that he is not who he otherwise would have been.
Frankly, I find myself wondering if public outrage would be as muted if the genders were reversed, if some young woman were marrying the man who raped her when she was 12. Would it still be necessary to wait for screaming to start? Would the bland declarations of a Noel Soriano still be unchallenged in the court of public opinion? Would we need reminders to be sickened at talk of selling TV rights to the wedding?
Putting aside for a moment the predations of homosexual priests upon altar boys, we are not conditioned to think of males as victims of sex crimes. Indeed, guys have a word for the man or boy who is preyed upon by an attractive older woman: lucky.
For the record, Vili Fualaau is not lucky. He is 22 years old, unemployed, father of two girls, the oldest of whom is 7, and engaged to marry the woman who took his childhood.
Shame on any book publisher or television producer who enriches this couple. Shame on anyone who supports them. And shame on Noel Soriano.
This is many things, but a love story it is not.
Leonard Pitts is a columnist for the Miami Herald. Readers may contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org