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Friday, July 17, 1998 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Letourneau's Father Says She Should Be Allowed To Marry

The AP

Mary K. Letourneau, imprisoned for having sex with a 13-year-old boy and now pregnant by the teen for the second time, should be allowed to marry him, her father says.

In an article in the upcoming issue of George magazine, the 35-year-old former Highline School District teacher said she told her father, former Rep. John Schmitz, R-Calif., about her relationship with the now-14-year-old boy in late 1996, weeks after she learned she was pregnant by her ex-pupil.

Letourneau, serving a seven-year, five-month prison term for second-degree child rape, is expecting her second child by the boy this fall. Their daughter, Audrey, was born in May 1997 and is in the care of the boy's mother.

In his first public comment since his daughter was arrested last year, Schmitz, noted for his extremely conservative views, said she never should have been charged with a crime.

"No one has used the argument that statutory rape, at least according to the Blackstone (law) dictionary, was solely a crime that a man could commit," he said.

"It would seem to me that it became a woman's crime when you had this political egalitarianism which has led to Washington state's having an equal-rights amendment, although it was rejected by the United States. That makes this a very political case."

The handling of the case by a woman prosecutor and woman judge also is significant, Schmitz said.

"I was one of the leading opponents of the Equal Rights Amendment when I was in the Congress, if not the leading opponent," he said.

Letourneau's ex-pupil has repeatedly denied being a victim.

Schmitz, who was a John Birch Society member, gained prominence in 1964 when he was elected to the California state Senate from Orange County.

In 1970 Schmitz was elected to Congress. Defeated after one term, he made a comeback and returned to the California Senate. He was also the Libertarian Party's candidate for president in 1972. His political career ended with the revelation in 1983 that he had a mistress - a former student in a class he taught at a community college - and two children by her.

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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