Judge Tanya Walton Pratt sentenced Jared Fogle to 15 years and six months in federal prison on charges of child pornography and having sex with a minor. (Read more about his sentence here.) Fogle plead guilty in exchange for what his attorneys hope will be a lesser sentence. Prosecutors were seeking the maximum sentence in their plea deal, 12.5 years, and said in court documents that this would send a message to others about child exploitation. Some people believe the only message the sentence sends is that if you’re rich, you’ll get a more lenient sentence. Many concerned citizens wrote Pratt, asking her to throw out the plea deal and throw the book at Fogle.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Pratt Sentenced Fogle to 20 Months More Than the Recommended Prison Term
Judge Tanya Walton Pratt sentenced Fogle to 15.6 years in prison on Thursday, blasting the former Subway spokesman after delivering her sentence.
Prosecutors were seeking 12.5 years of federal prison time for Fogle, which is the maximum amount under his plea deal, plus lifetime supervised probation after he gets out, IndyStar reported. The plea agreement called for five to 12.5 years in prison, plus $1.4 million to 14 victims. In the court filing, prosecutors said the sentence would send a message to others who exploit children — but some people are concerned that this message would be that rich people get lighter sentences. Meanwhile, prosecutors said in their court filing that they entered a plea agreement because a public trial would have made the healing process more difficult for the minors involved, while not changing the outcome of the case at all, IndyStar reported.
There’s a lot of evidence against Fogle, including over 159,000 text messages, more than 3,000 videos, and more than 47,000 pictures, TMZ reported. In addition, there are 12 victims from his child pornography charges and two minors that he paid for sex. According to court documents, Fogle’s business partner Russell Taylor gave drugs and alcohol to minors to get them to engage in sexual acts, and Fogle didn’t report this because he wanted to see the pornography. Recently, Dr. Phil released tapes where Fogle talked about his crimes to a wired reporter.
2. She Received Letters Asking Her to Throw Out Fogle’s Plea Deal
Pratt received letters from concerned citizens asking her to throw out Fogle’s plea deal and give him a tougher sentence, Fox 59 reported. One letter read that Fogle’s plea deal was a disgrace and the children he victimized will never be the same. The letter reads, in part:
Jared should be put away for a long time, he is a threat to society. If he hurt 10 children, and is given a small amount—say 5 years for each child—that equals 50 years.”
Fox 59 reported on another letter that said Fogle used his fame as a feeder tank for children and the plea deal is disgusting. Felon inmates have also sent letters to Pratt asking that Fogle get a tougher sentence, The Inquisitr reported. One of these felons, Scott Petrie, wrote in part:
I would have jumped on that too because in about 10 years Mr. Fogle will come out of prison, be a multi-millionaire still and will still like little or young girls… I know, I’m a pedophile, and the only message his plead deal is ending is that if your [sic] rich enough you can play but, it will cost you some money and some time.”
Another felon wrote that his sentence would be a slap in the face, telling the public that if you have assets to throw around, you won’t get punished as much, The Inquisitr reported.
Without a plea agreement, Fogle could have faced 50 years in prison from the two felony charges, IndyStar reported.
Part of the reason Fogle is facing a lesser sentence is because he was charged with possession of child pornography but not distribution. Under Indiana law, possessing child pornography can be a felony punishable with up to three years in prison and under federal law it can bring a sentence of five to 20 years, Reason reported. However, he traveled across state lines to have sex with a minor, which is a much more serious crime in terms of sentencing, with some perpetrators getting a decade or more just for one charge, CNN reported. In fact, one charge can be punishable with up to 30 years in prison, Reason reported. The complaints that he might be getting too light of a sentence aren’t unreasonable.
3. She’s an Advocate for Helping Children in Need
Pratt feels it’s very important to be impartial and provide equal justice whether a person is rich or poor, she told the Indianapolis Business Journal.
She’s had this position for five years. On June 15, 2010, she was appointed to her position as judge of the United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana, according to her bio. She was the first African-American federal judge in Indiana history and was highlighted as a woman of influence by the Indianapolis Business Journal.
But one thing that is known for certain about her is that she’s an advocate for children in need. While she was probate judge of Marion County, she publicly advocated for the need to adopt children in foster care. In 2009, she reinstated a tradition of setting aside one day specifically for adoption hearings, the Indiana Court Times reported. Her event included a visit from Santa Claus, snacks for families, and a stuffed animal and a goodie bag for each child, along with family photos.
4. She’s Already Ruled on Other Notable Cases
Pratt has already ruled on a number of notable cases. In 2014, she ruled on a case about missing student Lauren Spierer. Her parents sued two of Lauren’s friends, saying they were negligent in giving their underaged daughter alcohol, LoHud reported. Pratt was sympathetic to the parents, but dismissed the case because there wasn’t enough evidence for the allegations.
In 2011, she granted a preliminary injunction against Indiana to prevent it from stopping Planned Parenthood from getting funds from Medicaid recipients, Courier Press reported. The injunction was made permanent in 2013.
In 2012, Pratt threw out a case where an Indianapolis Colts cheerleader, Malori Wampler, was fired for posing at a Playboy part wearing only body paint. Wampler sued, saying the firing was discrimination, and Pratt did not agree, Above the Law reported.
5. She’s Been Tough on Other Rape Cases
Pratt’s been tough on other rape cases, but she also believes in criminal rehabilitation. For example, while she was a judge in the Marion County court, she heard a case involving a man accused of four counts of rape, criminal confinement, and robbery, among other charges, The Indiana Law Blog reported. The defendant had two separate trials that both ended up being heard by Pratt — once in Marion County court and once in federal court. He was sentenced to 133 years in jail. Later, he appealed saying that both of his cases shouldn’t have been heard by the same judge.
According to her Indy Bar bio, she’d like to see more rehabilitation, re-entry and educational programs for prisoners. When she worked for Marion County, she got a reputation for being a tough but respectful judge.