The ex-wife of former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle is suing the sandwich chain, accusing the company of knowing about his sexual interest in children for years but turning a blind eye to it ― even though his promotional work included visits to schools.
In Katie McLaughlin’s lawsuit, filed Monday in Indiana, the mother of two claims that Subway was informed about his sexual misbehaviors on at least three occasions. Instead of reporting it to authorities, she says the company kept it from the public to protect Fogle, whom her suit referred to as their “cash cow.”
“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 read from a statement at a press conference Monday.
According to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by The Huffington Post, Subway was alerted to Fogle’s misconduct as early as 2004 ― that’s 11 years before he was arrested on crimes, including distributing and receiving child pornography and traveling out of state to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor. Fogle was sentenced last year to more than 15 years in prison.
In that 2004 warning, the company’s vice president of marketing received a complaint stating that he approached a young girl in Las Vegas for a sex act. The company responded by having a public relations employee speak with him, according to the suit.
“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,” the suit states.
Four years later, the suit claims, a Subway franchise owner in Florida contacted Subway’s then-CEO Jeff Moody and informed him about some disturbing comments Fogle had made about children. The comments included Fogle saying how he had sex with children and “really like[d] them young.”
According to the suit, Moody interrupted the franchise owner from continuing, telling her: “Please don’t tell me any more. Don’t worry, he has met someone. She is a teacher and he seems to love her very much, and we think she will keep him grounded.”
In 2009, one year after that incident, Fogle became engaged to McLaughlin and they married in 2010. She has two children, ages 3 and 5, from the marriage.
McLaughlin, who was seen fighting back tears at Monday’s press conference, said that “like the rest of America,” she had no idea about the allegations against Fogle until his 2015 arrest. According to her suit, had she known about the allegations, she would not have married him.
“When the FBI banged on my door on July 7th, 2015, I thought it was the worst day of my life,” she said, referring to the day the family’s Indiana home was raided by the FBI. “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.”
Her lawsuit cites five counts against Subway, including invasion of privacy /misappropriation of likeness, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, negligence per se, and right of publicity.
The misappropriation of likeness count stems from the company’s use of images depicting McLaughlin and her children in their ads, which she said was done without her consent.
McLaughlin’s attorney said their lawsuit was a last resort after the fast food chain repeatedly refused to give them answers about their involvement in Fogle’s crimes.
“Our private efforts at communication with Subway have been unsuccessful and that’s what necessitated the filing of this lawsuit and the discovery process to begin,” attorney Mike Antrim stated Monday.
A spokesperson for Subway declined comment, citing pending legal action.
Read McLaughlin’s full statement below:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I actually want to thank you all in the media for respecting my privacy and the privacy of my children over the past year. I recognize that filing a lawsuit is taking a public step. However, I chose to make this statement today, rather than risk media presence at my home and in my neighborhood. I would ask that you please continue to respect my privacy and the privacy of my children.