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Teacher Who Had Child by Student Is Daughter of Ex-O.C. Congressman

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SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A Washington state schoolteacher who last month pleaded guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old student whose child she bore in May said she had hoped to hide her family identity throughout the ordeal because her father, former Orange County Republican Rep. John Schmitz, is dying of cancer.

“It’s a tragedy that this came out about me before his death,” Mary Kay LeTourneau, one of Schmitz’s eight children, told the Seattle Times in an emotional interview from jail in Kent, Wash. “He has cancer. He’s expected to die in a couple of months. He had a right to die with dignity.” LeTourneau’s relationship to Schmitz was revealed in newspaper stories over the weekend.

LeTourneau, 35, first met the student when he was a second-grader. Last year, he became a student in her sixth-grade class. She began having sex with him in June, she told the Seattle Times, saying that she felt bonded to him but that she “felt that one day he might marry my daughter.”

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A relative of LeTourneau’s husband reported her to authorities; she was arrested in March.

She told the Seattle Times from jail this weekend that she feels responsible for reviving an old scandal that disgraced the family and forced her father out of politics.

The scandal occurred in 1982 when it was made public that Schmitz, who had touted church and family values during his controversial political career, had fathered two children out of wedlock during a nine-year affair.

A judge at the time ordered Schmitz and the children’s mother, a student in Schmitz’s government class at Santa Ana College, to explain in court why hair was wound so tightly around their 2-year-old son’s penis that it was nearly severed when the boy was taken to a hospital. The injury later was found to have been accidental.

Schmitz now lives in Washington, D.C., where he works part time at Political Americana, a memorabilia store in Union Station.

Neither Schmitz nor his wife, Mary, could be reached for comment. The couple raised their family in Tustin and Newport Beach.

LeTourneau’s baby girl is being raised by the mother of the student, now 14. LeTourneau’s husband filed for divorce and moved to Alaska with the couple’s children. She will be sentenced Aug. 29 and could spend 7 1/2 years in prison.

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County GOP Chairwoman Emeritus Lois Lundberg said she was more shocked to learn of Schmitz’s cancer than the events involving his daughter.

“It’s very, very, very sad,” Lundberg said. “I feel very sorry in scandals because [critics] will gloat and say, ‘See, none of them are any good.’ ”

For nearly 20 years, Schmitz exemplified Orange County firebrand conservatism after he was elected in 1964 to the state Senate. An activist in the right-wing John Birch Society, Schmitz eventually was asked to leave the group because of his outspokenness.

After serving two years in Congress, he changed parties in 1972 to run for president as the American Independent Party nominee against Richard Nixon. In 1978, he won a second state Senate seat, representing Newport Beach as a Republican.

Three years later, he was disciplined by the Senate and stripped of a committee chairmanship after issuing a press release critical of Jews, feminists and homosexuals. When he called attorney Gloria Allred a “slick, butch lawyeress,” she won a $20,000 lawsuit against him and a public apology.

Schmitz’s daughter moved from Orange County in 1980 to attend Arizona State University, where she met her future husband. The couple and their four children, aged 3 to 12, lived in Berien, Wash.

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