Jared Fogle's ex-wife sues Subway, claims company didn't act on complaints

Jared Fogle at a SUBWAY restaurant in Tuscaloosa, AL, on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011.

AP Images for SUBWAY Restaurants

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — Former Subway pitchman Jared Fogle’s ex-wife is suing the restaurant chain, claiming the company was told on three occasions, between 2004 and 2011, that Fogle had expressed sexual interest in children.

Kathleen McLaughlin said at a press conference Monday that she was “shocked” when the FBI raided her home in July 2015, before charging him in federal court with possessing and distributing child pornography, and commercial sex acts with a minor.

“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.

The lawsuit claims that Subway, which has more than 44,000 franchises in 112 countries, first received a report warning of Fogle’s sexual interest in youths in 2004. The lawsuit contends that a senior vice president at the company “received a complaint that Jared had approached a young girl at a promotional event for a Las Vegas Subway franchise for a sex act.”

The company is accused of sending a public relations employee, who allegedly questioned Fogle and the franchise owner, but not the alleged victim, about the complaint.

Four years later, the lawsuit claims, the owner of a Florida Subway franchise contacted the company’s then-CEO Jeff Moody and told Moody that Fogle had made disturbing comments.

The franchise owner, Cindy Mills, allegedly told Moody that Fogle told her “he really liked them young,” between the ages of nine and 16, according to the complaint.

“Please don’t tell me anymore,” Moody allegedly replied, before noting that Fogle planned to marry a woman, McLaughlin, “and we think she will keep him grounded.”

The lawsuit also sites a third complaint made by Rochelle Herman-Walron, a Florida journalist who later aided the FBI in investigating Fogle, by wearing a wire and secretly recording conversations in which Fogle described his desire to have sex with minors.

McLaughlin’s accuses the company of portraying Fogle as a “family man” despite the complaints, noting a 2015 commercial that was aired more than 2,000 times, depicting a cartoon version of their family. McLaughlin said she did not give permission to the company to use her or their children’s likeness in the ad.

“I filed this lawsuit because I have questions. Questions that someday my children will ask me and that I imagine the families of the 14 victims are asking. Questions to which I have no other way to get answers,” McLaughlin said at the press conference. “What did Subway known and when did they know it? What investigations, if any, did they conduct? Did they ever notify the authorities?”

McLaughlin’s attorney, J. Michael Antrim, said the company had not responded to attempts to get answers to those questions made before filing the lawsuit.

“Our private efforts at communication have been unsuccessful,” Antrim said.

Fogle was sentenced in November 2015 to 15 years in federal prison. Prosecutors at the trial detailed text messages he sent soliciting sex with minors, “the younger the better.” Fogle admitted paying for sex with girls as young as 16 and receiving child pornography produced by Russell Taylor, the former executive director of The Jared Foundation, a nonprofit Fogle started to raise awareness and money to fight childhood obesity.

Girls as young as six appeared in photos or videos from Taylor, according to prosecutors. A detective testified that Fogle knew at least three of the children in Taylor’s videos. Taylor was sentenced to 27 years in prison in a related case.

The lawsuit alleges that Subway promoted The Jared Foundation, even though it was aware the foundation focused on youths. McLaughlin is seeking monetary damages in the lawsuit, but has not specified how much is being sought. 

Subway declined to comment on the allegations Monday, citing the pending civil case.