THE LATEST CHAPTER IN THE INFAMOUS SAGA OF MARY KAY LETOURNEAU, THE SEATTLE SCHOOLTEACHER WHO HAD A SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP WITH HER STUDENT, VILI FUALAAU, WHEN SHE WAS 34 AND HE WAS 12, ENDED LAST MONTH WHEN FUALAAU AND HIS MOTHER, SOONA VILI, LOST THEIR CIVIL CASE AGAINST THE SCHOOL DISTRICT AND THE LOCAL POLICE. THE JURY REFUSED TO AWARD THEM DAMAGES, DECIDING THAT THE SCHOOL AND THE POLICE BORE NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR ALLOWING THE SEXUAL ABUSE TO HAPPEN. Commentators who followed the case said that Fualaau and Vili undermined their own case. He gave contradictory testimony at different times; she was easily painted by lawyers for the defense as a greedy and negligent parent. Yet one has to wonder if there is a gender angle here as well. Do many people, including jurors, still find it difficult to see a male victim in such a case as a true victim?
In this instance, the bias against male victims stems from traditional sex stereotypes, not feminist ones. Indeed, before the feminist push for gender-neutral laws in the 1970s, sexual contact between a woman and an underage male did not legally qualify as statutory rape in most states.