Jared Fogle’s ex-wife claims Subway knew of the former spokesman’s sexual interest in children as early as 2004 but failed to report their “cash cow” to police.
In a lawsuit filed Monday, Katie McLaughlin says the sandwich chain even kept Fogle’s pedophilia allegations secret from her, because executives believed their marriage would keep Fogle “grounded.”
Despite receiving tips that Fogle solicited children, Subway sent their pudgy promoter into elementary schools as part of “Tour de Pants” and other nationwide events in 2004 and 2008, court papers allege.
“The safety of kids was not a priority but Subway’s bottom line was,” the lawsuit says. “To drive sales, Subway ignored its corporate responsibility and provided a platform for him to prey on children by sending him to elementary schools all over the country.”
The litigation comes days after one of Fogle’s victims—an Indiana girl who was secretly filmed at the residence of his best friend and children’s nonprofit director, Russell Taylor—dropped a lawsuit against Fogle without a settlement.
At a press conference Monday, McLaughlin held back tears as she told reporters she filed the suit to get answers from Subway.
“Finding out that your husband and the father of your children is a child predator and knowing that his job involved him visiting schools on a regular basis is devastating,” McLaughlin said.
“Finding out that Subway did not act upon at least one complaint while continuing to utilize Jared as their spokesperson and facilitate his visits to those hundreds of schools is beyond comprehension,” she added.
“I filed this lawsuit today because I have questions, questions that someday my children will ask me, and that I imagine the families of the 14 victims are asking,” McLaughlin continued. “Questions like: What did Subway know? When did they know it?”
McLaughlin’s attorney, Mike Antrim, said private efforts to obtain information from Subway were unsuccessful.
Fogle was sentenced to 15 years behind bars for possession and distribution of child porn and commercial sex with a minor in November 2015. One month later, Taylor received a 27-year sentence for filming children as young as 9 using hidden clock cameras throughout his home and sharing the footage with Fogle.
McLaughlin’s lawsuit—which lists her two children as plaintiffs—accuses Subway of negligence, invasion of privacy through misappropriation of likeness, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, among other alleged violations.
Fogle shot to stardom in 2000, after he lost 225 pounds eating only Subway sandwiches as a student at Indiana University.
The lawsuit says that Fogle helped Subway grow from a midsize shop to a worldwide chain, and that in 2013, the company’s chief marketing officer declared one-third to one-half of Subway’s growth was directly attributable to Fogle.
In January 2015, months before Fogle was arrested for child porn and sex with minors, Subway signed him to a two-year extension of his previous five-year contract.
The restaurant chain continued to work with Fogle, despite receiving reports of his activity with children for years, court papers allege.
According to the lawsuit, Subway received complaints about Fogle at least three times. On two of those occasions, the company responded by deploying PR employees to ask Fogle about the allegations—instead of calling police.
In the third case, Subway admitted the complaint was “not properly escalated or acted upon,” the suit alleges.
Subway’s senior vice president of marketing allegedly received a complaint in 2004 of Fogle soliciting a young girl at a Las Vegas promotional event. In response, the chain sent a PR manager to ask Fogle and the franchise owner about the incident. The victim was not contacted, the lawsuit claims.
In 2008, a Florida Subway franchisee warned Subway’s then-CEO Jeff Moody about Fogle’s disturbing comments about children, court papers state. That franchisee, Cindy Mills, claimed Fogle told her “he really liked them young.”
Fogle allegedly told Mills that he had sex with children ages 9 to 16 and that she should consider prostituting herself.
Still, Moody interrupted Mills and told her to keep quiet, court papers allege.
“Please don’t tell me any more,” Moody allegedly told Mills, before assuring, “Don’t worry, he has met someone. She is a teacher and he seems to love her very much, and we think she will keep him grounded.”
That teacher, according to the lawsuit, was McLaughlin.
McLaughlin claims Subway never informed her about Mills’s report or about Moody’s comments about keeping Fogle “grounded.”
“Having neither expert knowledge of pedophiles’ predatory compulsions nor seeking guidance from experts, Subway made a terribly misguided assumption that Jared’s marrying Katie would correct Jared’s pedophilia behavior,” court papers state.
McLaughlin married Fogle in 2010 and only learned of Mills’s story after the FBI raided the Fogle residence in July 2015, the complaint says.
Meanwhile, Moody allegedly went as far as telling Mills he received similar complaints about Fogle in the past.
Undeterred, Mills later told two other Subway executives about Fogle’s pedophilia at a NASCAR event. She approached the higher-ups because she feared seeing Fogle at the race, the complaint claims.
Again, Subway allegedly sent its senior public relations manager to ask Fogle about the accusations, which he denied. No further action was taken, court papers allege.
Subway was allegedly tipped off to Fogle’s pervy behavior once more in 2011, when Rochelle Herman-Walrond complained through Subway’s website that she had serious concerns about Fogle being around children.
Herman-Walrond, a Florida journalist who worked with the FBI to record conversations with Fogle, claimed he told her of his desire to have sex with children and asked for her help in getting him access to kids.
Subway admitted that complaint was “not properly escalated or acted upon,” according to McLaughlin’s suit.
Despite warnings about Fogle, Subway launched “Jared’s School Tour,” as a childhood obesity initiative in 2004. In 2008, Fogle traveled to elementary schools nationwide as part of the “Tour de Pants,” where he showed off jeans he wore at 425 pounds.
The marketing and public relations staff who oversaw such events were the same executives sent to ask Fogle about his sexual interest in kids, court papers allege.
McLaughlin also claims Subway used her and her children as a marketing tool in February 2015, when they showed Fogle’s transformation from “Jared the Subway Guy” to “Jared the Family Man.”
In March 2015, Subway began airing “Jared’s Journey,” a national TV ad with Fogle sharing the story of his 225-pound shed. The chain, however, did not obtain McLaughlin’s consent to depict her likeness in the commercial, she claims.
McLaughlin claims Fogle was so important as Subway’s mascot that the sandwich chain “exploited his family despite” the pedophilia allegations.
Her divorce from the disgraced sandwich spokesman was finalized days before his prison sentence. She received $7 million and sole custody of their two young children, the Indianapolis Star reported.