Re: Terry McDeemott on Mary Kay's love affair

Tony Hollick (
Mon, 17 Nov 97 11:57 GMT0


The Seattle Times, Today's Top Stories:

Terry McDermott:

LeTourneau and Blilie -- similar cases but different outcomes

Copyright 1997 The Seattle Times Company

Sunday, Nov. 16, 1997

Mary LeTourneau, 35, a schoolteacher, has an affair with a 13-year-old
boy, a former student of hers.

The affair produces a guilty plea to charges of second-degree child
rape. It also produces a baby and, last week, a suspended sentence.

Mark Blilie, 42, a schoolteacher, has an affair with a 15-year-old girl,
a former student of his.

The affair produces a conviction for third-degree child rape and child
molestation and four years in the joint for Blilie.

What's wrong with this?

I mean, other than the fact that both these people did horrible things,
that they abused children and the hopes and trust of entire communities.

What's wrong, of course, is the similarity of the situations and the
vastly different outcomes.

How did this happen?

The answers are as simple as human history, and as complicated as the
human heart.

But here's a clue.

One newspaper account of LeTourneau's sentencing hearing contained this

"During the sentencing, the mother of the boy forgave LeTourneau, who
appeared in an aquamarine sweater, black pleated skirt and her hair
pinned up with soft tendrils." She has frequently been described in
other news accounts as blond and attractive.

In case you're wondering, the phrase "soft tendrils" did not appear in
any of the stories written about Mark Blilie. In fact, there was no
physical description of him whatsoever, although judging from a
photograph taken on the day of his sentencing, he is a tall, handsome,
dark-haired man. The eattle Times published that photograph with a
caption identifying him as "convicted child rapist Mark Blilie."

The caption published with the photograph of Mary LeTourneau taken at
her sentencing identified her as a "former teacher."

I'm not trying to suggest that Blilie should have evaded prison or that
LeTourneau should be sent there. I frankly don't know. But the
circumstances of the two cases are so strikingly similar that you would
think their sentences would be as well.

Often, in cases like these, the histories of the accused individuals
play a crucial role in sentencing. Neither Blilie nor LeTourneau had
previous criminal histories.

The chief difference is Blilie is a man, LeTourneau a woman.

A fast-developing area of biology is spooling out ingenious Darwinian
explanations of human sexual behavior: Men seek multiple sexual partners
to increase their chances of reproducing; women seek them to set up a
competition among sperm - may the best man win.

Sexual desire, the theorists say, is physical. It is as weird and
wonderful and perverse as the world. In some sense, we can't control the
desires we have. As a species we're hard-wired for reproduction. It's
what we live to do, seeking a sort of serial immortality. Our desires
encourage us.

I'd bet that 95 people out of a hundred would explain Mark Blilie's
actions as a result of nothing more than sexual desire, inadequately

LeTourneau has contended throughout her ordeal that her only defense is
one from the heart.

The boy was old and wise beyond his years. His own mother calls him an
"old soul." LeTourneau says she fell in love with him, and although she
acknowledges what she did was wrong, she says she loves him still.

She says this does not excuse her actions, but might help explain them.
Actually, no, it doesn't help explain them. In fact, in some ways it
makes them even more confusing and disconcerting.

Love, unlike desire, is a human invention. It is almost entirely a
creation of culture and is in large part a product of intention.

In some sense, it would be easier to accept LeTourneau saying she got
carried away by rash and unfortunate desire. To say she loved the boy
is to say she wanted to happen what did. It further mystifies everyone
but her.

We can accept the fact that some people are just plain bad. When they
commit crimes, we understand that bad people do bad things.

But when good people do bad things and do them on purpose, we are left
without our normal, comforting rationalizations. It's very scary because
in the end we are left to wonder:

What about us?

Terry McDermott's column usually appears Tuesday and Thursday.

His phone message number is 515-5055.

His e-mail address is: