The recent criminal charges against Subway spokesman Jared Fogle for soliciting underage sex and child pornography may have come as a shock to most Americans, but the fast food chain now admits there may have been warning signs as early as 2011 that the face of their franchise was troubled.
An internal Subway investigation revealed a "serious" complaint against Fogle made on the company's website four years ago. However, according to a Subway spokesperson the "there was nothing that implied anything about sexual behavior or criminal activity involving Mr. Fogle." And yet, Subway says they "regret that this comment was not properly escalated or acted upon."
Fogle, who was heavily featured in Subway advertising for 15 years because he attributed losing over 200 pounds to a diet of their sandwiches, was the subject of an extensive FBI investigation which led to him accepting a plea deal in August. He pled guilty to charges that he paid for sex acts with minors and received child pornography on multiple occasions. Fogle has been ordered to pay up to $1.4 million in restitution to his 14 victims (each will receive $100,000), is currently under house arrest, and must wear a leg monitor. He has a sentencing hearing in November and could face a minimum of five years in prison. Prosecutors agreed not to seek more than a 12 1/2-year sentence as a part of the plea deal.
"Jared Fogle expects to go to prison," his attorney Jeremy Margolis said on Aug. 19. "He will do his time. He expects to do well. He expects to make amends to those people whose lives he has affected."
On Friday, Subway wrote in a statement: "When we first learned of the investigation into Mr. Fogle, we immediately suspended and subsequently ended our relationship with him. The harm he caused so many is inexcusable and we continue to extend sympathies to his victims and their families."
Subway added that their investigation turned up no further evidence of any complaints lodged against Fogle. The company did not however give any more details about the nature of the "serious" complaint.
According to the Associated Press, the 2011 complaint was filed by former Florida journalist Rochelle Herman-Walrond, but her connection to Fogle is unknown. Meanwhile, several witnesses from various states have alleged that Fogle "repeatedly" discussed paying for sex with minors, and Cindy Mills, a former Subway franchisee, has claimed that she alerted a company executive about the former pitchman's activities as early as 2008. Subway has denied having any record of her complaint and have said if there was one it was never escalated to management.
Fogle's net worth at the time of his arrest was reportedly $15 million. U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler, who prosecuted the case, argued that Fogle used his “wealth status and secrecy to illegally exploit children.” His wife Katie announced their divorce on the same day he accepted his plea deal. Some have speculated that he may lose his entire fortune.