The ex-wife of former Subway pitchman Jared Fogle is suing the sandwich chain, accusing the company of knowing Fogle was a pedophile and failing to act on that knowledge in order to protect its business interests.
Katie McLaughlin, who divorced Fogle after he was arrested on federal charges in 2015, filed the lawsuit Monday in Indiana state court. Her two children, ages 5 and 3, are also listed as plaintiffs.
She claims Subway received reports “regarding Jared’s sexual interest in and activity with children” on at least three occasions during his tenure with the company. None of those reports were referred to law enforcement, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit includes the accusation made by a former Subway franchisee that Fogle told her he “really liked them young,” and told her he had sex with minors from age 9 to 16.
According to the lawsuit, Subway responded to the first two reports by sending a public relations employee to ask about the allegations. Subway admitted the third complaint was “not properly escalated or acted upon.”
“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 in a statement. “Finding out that Subway did not act upon at least one complaint while continuing to utilize Jared as their spokesperson and facilitate his visits to those hundreds of schools is beyond comprehension.”
McLaughlin is being represented by attorneys from the Noblesville, Indiana, law firm of Church Church Hittle + Antrim, including J. Michael Antrim, Alexander Pinegar and Kelleigh Fagan.
“The safety of kids was not a priority but Subway’s bottom line was,” the lawsuit states. “To drive sales, Subway ignored its corporate responsibility and provided a platform for him to prey on children by sending him to elementary schools all over the country. Subway then turned to Jared’s family as a marketing tool to increase profits and utilized their likenesses without their consent, all the while knowing of a series of allegations of pedophilia and sexual interest in children.”
You can read the full lawsuit below or by clicking here:
Fogle — who became Subway’s spokesman in 2000 after losing 225 pounds while on a diet of the chain’s sandwiches — married McLaughlin, a 39-year-old former Indianapolis school teacher in 2010. Their children were born in 2011 and 2013. McLaughlin says in the lawsuit that Fogle traveled about 200 days a year for his job with Subway, and she was the primary caretaker of the children.
“When the FBI banged on my door on July 7th, 2015, I thought it was the worst day of my life. I had no idea that the nightmare was just beginning. Like the rest of America, I was shocked by what I learned in the weeks and months to follow,” McLaughlin said in a statement. “First let me say, to the victims of my ex-husband, you are never far from my thoughts and prayers. I can only imagine what you have been going through. A mother’s most basic instinct is to protect her children and this is one of the most horrific of crimes. I know the healing process is lifelong.”
McLaughlin said she took the step of filing the lawsuit, despite knowing it would bring her into the public spotlight:
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. Questions like what did Subway know and when did they know it? What investigations, if any, did they conduct? Did they ever notify the authorities?
I also filed this lawsuit because I am seeking damages from Subway. As the complaint alleges, there have been news reports that Subway received at least one complaint that Jared had sexual interest in children. Subway even took the step of marketing him as a family man and used my children’s and my likenesses in that campaign. I did not give them the consent to do this.
This is not a position I ever wanted to be in. Bringing this lawsuit was not an easy decision to make. I am by nature and practice a very private person. I have kept my children out of the public arena, despite their father’s career, arrest, and conviction.
According to the lawsuit, the first knowledge Subway had of Fogle’s interest in children came in 2004, when the company’s then senior vice president of marketing received a complaint that Fogle had approached a young girl for a sex act at a promotional event for a Las Vegas Subway franchise:
Driven by sales rather than the safety of kids, Subway sent its then Senior Public relations Manager to ask Jared and the franchise owner, rather than the victim, about the incident.
Other than sending a public relations employee to ask the wrongdoer about the incident, Subway did nothing more in relation to this event or to otherwise more fully investigate the allegations.
The second complaint was made by Cindy Mills, a former Florida Subway franchisee, in 2008, according to the lawsuit. Mills says she told Jeff Moody, the company’s then CEO, that Fogle had made disturbing comments about children to her, according to the lawsuit:
Mills told Moody that Jared told her ‘he really liked them young.’
Mills told Moody that Jared had sex with minors from age 9 to 6.
Mills told Moody that Jared suggested Mills prostitute herself.
McLaughlin’s lawsuit claims that Moody interrupted Mills and said, about McLaughlin, “please don’t tell me anymore. Don’t worry, he has met someone. She is a teacher and he seems to lover her very much and we think she will keep him grounded.”
Mills said Moody “indicated he had dealt with similar complaints in the past.” She also said she reported the same information to her regional Subway franchise office and two other Subway executives.
According to the lawsuit, Subway again sent its senior public relations manager to ask Fogle about the complaint, and after he denied the allegations, did nothing further.
“Having neither expert knowledge of pedophiles’ predatory compulsions nor seeking guidance from experts, Subway made a terribly misguided assumption that Jared’s marrying Katie would correct Jared’s pedophilia behavior.”
McLaughlin claims Subway did not inform her about Mills’ complaint or about how the company’s CEO hoped McLaughlin would keep Fogle “grounded,” according to the lawsuit.
The third accusation was made to Subway in 2011 by Florida journalist Rochelle Herman-Walrond, who “made a complaint through Subway’s website that she had serious concerns about Jared being around children.”
Subway has admitted that complaint was not properly acted upon.
Herman-Walrond has publicly said Fogle made comments to her about his “desire to perform illegal sexual acts with children and Jared asked for Herman-Walrond’s help in getting him access to children,” according to the lawsuit. She later worked with the FBI to record conversations with Fogle.
McLaughlin’s lawsuit claims Subway continued to promote him “despite knowing of Jared’s sexual interest in children and the then-alleged sexual acts he committed with them.” The lawsuit also says Subway “launched multiple campaigns that required Jared to visit elementary schools around the country.”
Two of those campaigns came in 2004 and 2008, the same years that complaints were made about him.
“The same marketing and public relations individuals who oversaw the various campaigns surrounding Jared were the same people who were sent to ask jared about allegations Subway received about Jared’s sexual interest in children in 2004 and 2008,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit also claims Subway began airing a national commercial called “Jared’s Journey” that introduced his family.
“The commercial depicted the likenesses of Katie,” and her two children, “through animations specifically designed to represent Jared’s family, including gender, age and physical characteristics. McLaughlin claims Subway did not get proper consent to depict the likenesses of the her and children in the ad, which you can watch below:
“On April 3, 2015, in regards to the family man campaign, Subway Chief Marketing Officer said ‘Jared is in extricably linked with our brand’,” according to the lawsuit. “Jared was so inextricably linked that Subway exploited his family despite knowing of allegations that Jared was a pedophile and failing to properly investigate those allegations.”
McLaughlin’s attorneys say she and her children, “will have to continue to suffer irreparable damage from the misappropriation and unauthorized use of their likeness,” and “will continue to suffer substantial emotional distress from Subway’s intentional and reckless misconduct and negligence.”
Fogle pleaded guilty to traveling to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor and distribution and receipt of child pornography and was sentenced in November 2015 to 15 years in federal prison.
Fogle and McLaughlin’s divorce was finalized last November.
Subway has not yet commented on the lawsuit. McLaughlin said the company had just signed Fogle to a two-year extension in January 2015 to continue as its spokesman. He was removed from the company after his conviction.