Subway knew that its spokesman, Jared Fogle, who recently pled guilty to illicit sexual conduct with a minor, was attracted to children since 2011. That year, a journalist approached the FBI to let them know Fogle had told her “middle school girls are hot” several times. The sandwich chain conducted an internal investigation and reviewed more than a million comments and interviews of current and past employees.
The former journalist, Michelle, Herman-Walrond, has told ABC affiliate WWSB that she believes Fogle has many more victims than the victims he has been charged with paying for sex, since he shared many stories about trips to Thailand. She secretly recorded phone calls with Fogle for more than four years.
Subway spokeswoman Kristen McMahon released a statement to the AP on Friday. McMahon said the 2011 complaint included “nothing that implied anything about sexual behavior or criminal activity involving Mr. Fogle” and said Subway regrets not acting further on the information.
Fogle would look for children to meet through the internet and take them to hotels such as the Ritz Carlton and Plaza Hotel. Fogle said that although he would pay for meetings with 16-year-olds, he said he was looking to meet younger girls. Often, Fogle would use his criminal activities with teenage girls in an older age range than he preferred in order to convince them to help him find even younger girls to exploit.
There is a reason Fogle has not been charged with rape in the federal case — there isn’t a federal statute for rape that would have applied to Fogle, the Washington Post explains. Advocacy groups such as Reproaction say the Fogle case is a reminder of why these laws need to be changed, since the word “sex” suggests consent in a situation where it can clearly not be applied. The New York District Attorney’s Office could prosecute Fogle for statutory rape and other charges. It did not respond to the Post’s request for comment on whether it would pursue charges.
The Subway spokesman also possessed child pornography featuring boys and girls as young as six. Those videos were shot in the home of Russell Taylor, the head of Fogle’s charity, the Jared Foundation, which raised awareness about childhood obesity. Taylor has been charged with child exploitation and attended a court hearing on Friday.
Not only was Fogle involved in the Jared Foundation, but he also toured schools across the country for over a decade, ThinkProgress reported:
Though he was speaking to groups of kids as early as 2003, his Subway-sanctioned “tour de pants” saw him visiting dozens of elementary and middle schools over the course of a year to talk about “healthy options.” Before that, Subway launched “Jared’s School Tour,” another national tour that saw Fogle speaking to kids about his weight loss, symbolized by a very large pair of pants.
Fogle has accepted a plea deal. He will also pay $1.4 million split evenly among the 14 victims, register as a sex offender, and get treatment for his sexual disorder, according to NBC News. The agreement says that the government won’t recommend a sentence of more than 12½ years in prison and Fogle won’t request more than five years in prison.