How’s that for a Monday morning headline? Well, that’s all I can think of, as I reflect on the three part series I watched on iTunes yesterday. As Bill was packing his bag for the rest of his TDY trip to Bavaria, I stumbled across a special called Jared From Subway: Catching a Monster. As regular readers know, I find criminals interesting, which is why I read books and watch television programs about them.
I remembered Jared Fogle from his many ads for Subway. For fifteen years, Fogle was the spokesman for the chain restaurant after he lost 245 pounds in under a year eating two Subway sandwiches a day. I think I heard them say that Jared ate a turkey sub and a Veggie Delite every single day and walked a lot as the pounds melted from his morbidly obese frame. When Subway got wind of Jared’s big losses, they asked him to promote their company. For fifteen years, Jared– who was once an outcast in school– was the face of Subway. He became very rich and famous, and people “loved” him. Or, they loved his story, anyway.
Now, I am not actually a fan of Subway. I don’t remember the last time I ate at one. I could probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve eaten at Subway. But Jared Fogle’s ads were everywhere for fifteen years, so of course I’d heard of him. Still, I was surprised and disgusted when the news came out about his penchant for molesting middle school aged children.
Suddenly, that winning facade fell apart, and Jared’s mansion was raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He had married and had two very young children with his second wife, Katie McLaughlin, when his bubble burst. Currently, he is incarcerated at FCI Englewood in Jefferson County, Colorado, where he’s serving a sentence of fifteen years and eight months for traveling to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor, and distribution and receipt of child pornography. When he is released, he will be compelled to submit to supervision for the rest of his life. He also had to pay $175,000 in fines, forfeit $50,000 and $1.4 million in restitution.
If and when Fogle is released, I suspect he will reoffend. Most sex offenders do. Hell, sex offender Josh Duggar is currently in the news because he got caught with a cell phone, causing him to lose some of his “good time”, and get sent to the special housing unit (SHU). Sex offenders, unfortunately, have a tendency to reoffend once they have the opportunity. They have problems with impulse control. In Jared, it’s obvious in many ways, even though he did manage to lose a stunning amount of weight by trading burgers for light sub sandwiches.
In one sitting, I watched Jared From Subway: Catching a Monster on iTunes, and learned the story about how Jared Fogle was caught. He’d made friends with a single mother of two and radio, Rochelle Herman, from Sarasota, Florida. In 2006, Herman had been asked by representatives from the American Heart Association to interview Fogle. At the time, no one knew about his dark impulses. The two became acquaintances. Initially, Fogle had been very personable and flirtatious. Rochelle told him about her children, mentioning that her daughter had wanted to meet him.
Just before their on camera interview began, Jared Fogle leaned over to Rochelle and told her how “hot” he thought middle school aged kids were. Naturally, Rochelle was flabbergasted. She did independent research to try to find out if there were any hints of what a deviant Jared seemed to be after he said those words to her. She found nothing.
For some reason, Rochelle Herman then decided that she–herself– needed to get him on tape saying those words, instead of simply reporting him to the police and letting them handle it. So, even though he made her skin crawl, Rochelle kept talking to Jared Fogle. However, she never told him she was taping him, so what she was doing was actually illegal, and would have been inadmissible in a court of law. She found this out later, when she did get Fogle on tape, talking about his attraction to children.
FBI agents told Rochelle that in order to avoid prosecution, she needed to work with them and say the “right” things so that the evidence could be used to bring Fogle to justice. So, at great personal cost, Rochelle Herman did just that. She recorded Fogle, as he grew more and more comfortable with telling her things. What he said was more and more disturbing, and Rochelle had to act like she was just fine with it all.
The special actually featured some of the recordings, which were pretty stomach turning. I’m sure they didn’t share the worst of what Fogle ever said to Herman. He spoke of doing things like going to supposedly more permissive Thailand to satisfy his desires, but he also wanted to offend at home. At one point, Herman even tried to set up a “sting” of sorts, using the guise of a fake birthday party for her son as a way to draw him out. Fogle even asked about “cute” friends her kids had. Unfortunately, the operation couldn’t happen, because Fogle’s schedule wouldn’t allow him to attend.
Herman said that she’s suffered a lot because of Fogle. She developed health problems that caused her great physical pain, forcing her into a wheelchair. She now requires strong painkillers to deal with her illness. Her daughter became very angry and alienated and, it seemed from the special, that her daughter is now estranged. Rochelle’s son still talks to his mom, but he moved to Taiwan. And Rochelle says she’s “haunted” by the awful conversations she had with Fogle, and the strain of trying to act like she was okay with what he said and did.
Aside from Jared Fogle, there was another player in this drama. Fogle started a foundation for promoting healthy eating. He hired a man named Russell Taylor to run the organization. Taylor, and his wife, Angela, were raising Angela’s daughters from a previous relationship, Christian and Hannah. It turned out that couple was just as slimy as Jared was, as Russell had set up secret cameras all through their home, spying on Angela’s daughters and their friends. Taylor was also sending material depicting bestiality. The couple were producing illegal materials which they were sending to Fogle. Russell Taylor and his now ex wife, Angela, are in prison, too.
I’ve really just scratched the surface of this story, which I know will be too triggering and “gross” for many people to stomach. I thought the series was very well done and compelling, but I also suspect that a lot of people will find it very distasteful viewing on many levels. I’m just glad that Rochelle Herman had the courage to speak up about Jared Fogle. In fact, as of 2010, she and Fogle had lost touch, and she grew impatient with law enforcement. She went to the local police department and threatened to air the story on her radio show if something wasn’t done about him. It was another five years before Fogle was finally busted.
Aside from his time behind bars– albeit in a low security facility– and all of the money he had to pay, Jared Fogle’s second wife, Katie, divorced him. He paid her about $7 million in their divorce settlement.
As revolting as I find Jared Fogle now, there’s a part of me that feels a little sad for him. Here was a guy who had been very fat from his childhood days. I don’t know why he got so fat, but my guess is that he might have also been abused as a child. He grew up a social outcast, even though he seemingly came from a good family. Something amazing happened to him, when he managed to lose weight by walking and eating Subway sandwiches. Suddenly, he was doing something good– and had become a role model to millions of people, some of whom emulated him and also lost weight. He had money, fame, and power. But because he had these dark impulses and deviant urges, he lost it all. Now, he’s completely disgraced, and his life is mostly ruined.
This doesn’t mean I don’t think Jared Fogle is exactly where he belongs. Clearly, the man should be in prison. He certainly can’t be trusted around children. But I do wonder what in the world happened to him when he was a child. Maybe things could have been different for him. As repulsive as Jared Fogle’s crimes are, I hate to see wasted potential in anyone. I think his story is absolutely awful, but it’s also so tragic on many levels, not just for him, but for everyone who believed in him. And, of course, I also feel sad for all of his victims, and his own two children, who have to live with the stigma associated with Jared Fogle.
On another note… there are some absolutely terrible memes about Jared Fogle. People can be so sick and twisted!
You can read more about the series I watched here.