law, true crime, TV, YouTube

Jared Fogle… a passenger on the Subway straight to Hell…

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.

Jared Fogle in 2004.

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.

Jared Fogle in 2006, before the truth came out about him.

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‚Äôs 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.

Lots of people emulated Jared Fogle and also lost weight.

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.

Piers Morgan interviews Jared before his fall from grace. I’m amazed by how very “normal” he seems.

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.

A few years ago, someone named Steven beat the crap out of Jared in prison.

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.

Jared’s last commercial for Subway… the real ending is not this happy at all.

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.

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Duggars, true crime

Josh Duggar is getting out of jail today…

I woke up this morning to the news that Josh Duggar will be temporarily released from jail today. Six days ago, Josh turned himself in, his wife Anna at his side, having been busted on federal charges for two counts of receiving and possessing images depicting child sexual abuse. Before I went to bed last night, I read an article that provided more details about Josh’s case. Federal agents found about 200 images on Josh’s computer, which was heavily rigged to deceive his wife, Anna. All of the images involved very young female children, some of whom were toddler aged. Despite all of that talk about the Duggars monitoring Internet usage and avoiding “wordly” things like pop music and television, Josh has developed some very sick obsessions that he’s accessed online. And despite his training at the School of the Dining Room Table, Josh is surprisingly tech savvy. He knows how to go to the dark, sleazy underworld on the Internet to satisfy his sick obsessions and perversions.

Frankly, as much as I dislike prison as a punishment, I think prison is exactly where Josh belongs. Prison should be reserved for people who are dangerous, and I think Josh has proven that he is VERY dangerous, especially to young children, the most vulnerable people in society.

Ugh… I can’t believe I watched the whole thing… Josh is truly disgusting.

According to a live stream video put out by Duggar expert, Katie Joy, who runs the Without a Crystal Ball YouTube channel, Josh’s computer had software on it called Covenant Eyes, which was supposed to send Anna information about the sites Josh was viewing on the Internet. But Josh also had his machine rigged with a TOR browser and a Linux system that allowed him to access the dark web, where there were no “eyes” on him. There, he was engaged in some very dark and shady activities that are about as far away from Christlike as a person can get.

People magazine reports that Josh will be released to “close family friends”, Lacount and Maria Reber. The Rebers say they don’t know Josh very well, but they are close to Josh’s parents, Jim Boob and Michelle, whom they know through church. The couple felt they should help the Duggars, even though Maria Reber says she’s only familiar with the charges against Josh and doesn’t know the details. Federal probation officer, Diem Nguyen, testified that Maria Reber had expressed concern that Josh would be released into her home, since her husband works full-time and she would be left for several hours alone with Josh during the daytime. For that reason, among others, Nguyen recommended against letting Josh out of jail.

The Rebers have a 22 year old daughter who gives piano lessons, but she will have to find another place to deliver her lessons. The Rebers also own firearms– big surprise– but no firearm safe. The judge did indicate that she wanted the weapons out the the Rebers’ home, since it would obviously not be a good thing if Josh decided to play with them while facing decades in prison.

Josh will have to be supervised 24/7. He’s not going to be allowed Internet access, must surrender his cell phone, and will be wearing a GPS monitor. Josh is not allowed to be around any children who aren’t his– and if he does see his own children, with whom he will be allowed unlimited contact, it can only be in the presence of his wife, Anna. He cannot see his minor brothers and sisters or his nieces or nephews.

I can’t help but remember Mark Salling, an actor who played Noah Puckerman on Glee. Salling was facing a prison sentence because, like Josh Duggar, he was in possession of images depicting child sexual abuse and had also been accused of sexual assault against an ex girlfriend, whom he sued for defamation of character. Salling was eventually forced to settle with his ex girlfriend, whom he was ordered to pay $2.7 million. When he was arrested in 2015, Salling was found to be in possession of over 50,000 illegal images. In 2017, Salling pleaded guilty to the charges and probably would have been sentenced to 4 to 7 years in prison. He also would have had to go to a treatment program and register as a sex offender. However, Salling never got sentenced because on January 30, 2018, Salling committed suicide by hanging himself.

While Josh Duggar is definitely not Mark Salling, there is a concern that he might try to commit suicide if he has access to weapons or any other means. Personally, I doubt Josh would ever try to commit suicide, mainly because I think he’s probably a sociopath. I suspect he thinks he will beat these charges, even though the evidence is extremely compelling and federal charges are notoriously difficult to refute. According to Katie Joy, who reportedly has many contacts within the Duggar family, Josh’s attitude during the bail hearing was surprisingly lighthearted. And the fact that he used the same easily guessed password for his regular accounts, such as banking, as he did for his porn sites, tells me that he’s unbelievably arrogant and never thought he’d be caught. And of course, he’s also a Christian, and a lot of Christians think they’re blessed and God is smiling on them… especially if they’re famous and wealthy, like Boob is.

I don’t know what life was actually like for Josh when he was growing up, but one thing I have observed is that Josh has always had access to his parents and their vast resources, even though his sex pest proclivities have caused significant issues for the Duggar empire. It’s because of Josh’s molestation scandal that 19 Kids and Counting was scandalized and canceled. Of course, that show was really just rebranded into one about the adult kids as Jim Boob continued to collect all the money on behalf of the adults… and I did notice, before I quit watching several years ago, that Boob and Michelle were becoming more and more visible on camera. But the point is, Josh hasn’t been shunned or excluded from the family circle.

Contrast that to what’s happened to his sister and one of his victims, Jill Duggar Dillard. Jill reportedly isn’t allowed to visit her family unless she has permission from Boob. She basically had to sue her father to get paid for her time on Counting On, and what she was paid basically amounted to minimum wage. When her sister (and fellow Josh victim), Jessa, went into labor with her latest baby, Ivy Jane, Jill had to ask permission to be able to go onto Boob’s property to help Jessa give birth. Jill and her husband, Derick, are definitely set apart from the family. Granted, I think part of it has been their (wise) choice– and they are now in charge of their own lives, which is how it should be. But the point is, Josh is definitely someone with deep and troubling issues. He’s been enabled, while his much healthier and less threatening sister, Jill, has been ostracized. And while Boob may find Jill a threat because she’s not living life according to Boob’s standards for women, it seems to me that if you really have the truth, it can’t be threatened because someone decides to wear pants, get a piercing, or seek therapy. If the Duggars had sought real help for Josh, back when he was a teenager, perhaps they would not be in the horrifying situation they’re in at this time.

I don’t understand the thinking of a lot of devout Christians, anyway. Or, at least the ones who profess to be Christians, yet vote for vile, disgusting, self-serving cretins like Donald Trump and revile people like Joe Biden. I’m not naive when it comes to politics. I know both of our major political parties in the United States are equally bad. But not all people are created equally in terms of their characters. For me, it’s pretty obvious that Donald Trump is a selfish, abusive, criminal. Any man who brazenly speaks about other people the way he does, with no shame or compunction whatsoever, is not someone who ever should have been allowed to lead– particularly the most powerful nation on the planet. By contrast, I see Joe Biden making decisions that clearly indicate that he cares about someone other than himself. It seems to me that Republicans who purport to be Christians are basically full of shit, and are only concerned with money and the appearance of being “blessed”, as well as keeping women under control. And the more I hear about the Duggars and the type of people who are their “friends”, the more I think that segment of society is corrupt and evil, despite all of their talk about emulating Jesus and worshiping God.

Well… we’ll see how well all of this works out for Josh and his family. I suspect that he may wind up back in the clink before too long. Even if he’s got the best intentions of being a model defendant, I suspect he’ll screw up before long. He can’t help himself, and he’s obviously very manipulative, dishonest, and sneaky. I really hope Anna wises up and finds herself a divorce attorney soon, before something truly tragic and irreversible happens. I know she was raised impoverished, in a cult. I know it seems like it would be impossible for her to break free of the Duggar trap. But I also know that there are many people who would help her in a heartbeat, if she would just reach out and ask.

Now to move on to cheerier subjects.

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obits, true crime

RIP Mary Kay…

I woke up to the news that Mary Kay Letourneau passed away on July 6th. She’d been suffering from colon cancer and spent the last month in hospice care. Her ex husband, Vili Fualaau, was at her side taking care of her. This would not seem like such a strange thing, except that Mary Kay Letourneau did seven years in prison for raping Vili when he was almost 13 years old. She’d been his teacher in both the second and sixth grades. Although Mary Kay Letourneau was regarded as an excellent teacher who, to my knowledge, was not a habitual sexual abuser, for some reason she couldn’t resist Vili Fualaau. It cost her everything, including her freedom and access to her four children from her first marriage.

Mary Kay Letourneau also had two children with Vili. They were married in 2005 and split up in 2017, finally divorcing in 2019. I remember reading that the split was mostly because Vili wanted to start a marijuana farm and couldn’t do so legally as long as he was married to a felon. In spite of their divorce, he was with Mary Kay until the end, even though she was technically his rapist.

Mary Kay Letourneau’s story was certainly unusual. In the late 1990s, she was a fixture in the tabloids. Lots of people had, and still have, very strong opinions about her. Just this morning, there’s a thread on RfM about Mary Kay Letourneau’s passing. A couple of posters are steadfastly taking people to task for expressing sadness that Mary Kay died. I am one of those they’re judging. They claim I’m a “rape apologist” because I expressed condolences. Incidentally, I remember a few months ago, someone else on RfM implying that I’m a racist because I described the people who punctured our tire in France as “swarthy”.

The person who implied I’m a racist is also among those claiming that anyone who empathizes with Mary Kay Letourneau is a “rape apologist”. I guess this puts me right down there with Donald Trump. Actually, I think these folks, both of whom are very intelligent, but sometimes quite rigid and argumentative, are guilty of extreme black and white thinking. And they seem just fine with telling other people how and what they should think, too. I’ve learned that there’s no point in having discussions with people of that ilk because it goes nowhere. Their minds are made up, and they simply aren’t willing to consider other viewpoints.

I often get into trouble with people because, for the most part, I try not to engage in black and white thinking, even when it comes to what should be done with rapists, child molesters, and murderers. Perhaps it’s because of my social work training, although maybe if I had actually had to do a lot of work with victims, that “open-mindedness” might have gone out the window. I see most people as capable of being and doing good things, even if they’ve committed a heinous crime. I like to hope that most people are redeemable on some level, even if I know some of them aren’t.

Anyway, my thinking about this case is what it is. I don’t tend to think of most people as all good or all bad. For instance, I despise Bill’s ex wife, but even she has her redeeming qualities if I stop and think about it for a moment. She could have been much worse than she was, although she was certainly bad enough. She did some really terrible things to people– to include rape. But I can still think of worse people in the world. I also realize that whatever I think of her, she still has loved ones who wouldn’t want to see her dead. Or, I assume she does, anyway.

I had a social work professor who did a lot of work in prisons with domestic abusers and child molesters. While that work is certainly considered distasteful to a lot of people, it’s very necessary, just as defense attorneys are necessary to advocate for people who are accused of crimes. My professor explained what it was like to work with pedophiles and child molesters (there is a difference). I remember thinking how difficult it must have been for him to work with that population, but I later came to realize that working with them was a kindness. He provided a much needed service for the offenders, but also for anyone who has to deal with the offenders, including their families and other incarcerated people.

A person can be a pedophile, but not a child molester. A pedophile is someone who is sexually attracted to children, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have molested children. It could be that they’re just attracted to them and have fantasies. A child molester molests children, but may or may not find them sexually attractive.

Many people think that someone who victimizes children should simply be executed. I can understand why people feel that way. Children are innocent and powerless, and they are never in a position of strength over adults who victimize them. I agree that people who harm children must be punished and prevented from harming other children. However, many people also have issues with the death penalty. Although I grew up being all for executing criminals, my mind changed as I came of age and saw the death penalty unfairly administered. I read horrifying accounts of innocent people being exonerated, sometimes after they had already been put to death. So now, I’m mostly against executing people, unless it’s a matter of public safety, there is absolutely no doubt of the person’s guilt, and there is certainty that given the opportunity, they would offend again. I think it’s something that should be done exceedingly rarely.

What should we do with someone who confesses to being a pedophile, but never actually harms a child? If someone dares to admit to those feelings, especially to someone with training in counseling, should we just round them up and shoot them? Or should we offer them some kind of help? Do pedophiles have any intrinsic worth as human beings, despite their attraction to children? Can they be salvaged? Do they deserve compassion and understanding? As my professor said, people who are attracted to children are dealing with a very powerful drive. If they are brave enough to seek help before they hurt anyone, and even after they’ve hurt someone, I think that should be encouraged.

I also don’t think that all sex offenders are created equally. What Mary Kay Letourneau did was certainly very wrong. She did rape a child. But she was not on the same level as someone like Warren Jeffs, who repeatedly victimized scores of women and children for many years.

From what I have read about the Letourneau case, the relationship Mary Kay had with Vili wasn’t violent. He could not legally consent to having sex with her when they first got together, because he was a child. She certainly abused her power by giving in to having sex with him when she was his teacher. But he was, apparently, her one and only victim, and for whatever reason, he later married her and willingly stayed with her for years.

Did Vili have the right to make the decision to marry his rapist as a consenting adult? Yes he did, even if I don’t agree with his decision. It would not have been right for the government to say that he couldn’t marry his abuser, even if most people think it’s icky and wrong. Americans value their freedoms, as we’ve especially seen during the coronavirus pandemic. And Vili, evidently, did not consider Mary Kay Letourneau abusive, even if the law says differently. Mary Kay was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which may have had some bearing on her behavior, too.

I don’t see Mary Kay Letourneau as a monster, even if I definitely don’t condone what she did. I think what matters most is what her victim thinks. Vili Fualaau was Mary Kay Letourneau’s victim, not me, and he hasn’t been a child in many years. Apparently, he loved her, despite what she did. Mary Kay Letourneau went to prison for her crimes against him. She did her time, and to my knowledge, did not reoffend. She can’t ever hurt anyone else because she’s now dead. Colon cancer is also not a very pleasant way to die.

I don’t understand Mary Kay’s and Vili’s relationship, but since Vili is an adult, I respect his choices, and yes, I am sorry for his loss. That does not make me a “rape apologist”. Aside from that, Mary Kay Letourneau was still the mother of six people. I don’t know what her children think of her, although I did read that she managed to “mend fences” with her eldest children. Her daughter, Mary Claire, was even the maid of honor at Mary Kay’s wedding to Vili. They’re probably sad that she died. Or maybe they aren’t sad. They’re entitled to whatever their feelings are. As a fellow human being, I have empathy for them. It’s not my place to demand that they hate her or be glad she’s dead. It’s not my place to demand that anyone thinks or feels the way I do. It doesn’t mean I admire Mary Kay Letourneau or think she was a paragon of virtue. It means I see her as a flawed human being who suffered and is deserving of basic compassion. There are people who loved her and will miss her, in spite of her shortcomings as a person. And I am sorry for their loss.

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