When Jared Fogle founded the Jared Foundation in 2004, it seemed like an obvious move. Fogle, by his own account, had developed an unhealthy relationship with food as a youth that led him to tip the scales at 425 pounds before embarking on his famous â€œSubway diet.â€ Armed with little more than willpower and six-inch turkey subs, Fogle dropped more than half his body weight, possibly saving his own life â€” and definitely launching his career.
Why not parlay his Subway spokesmanship into charitable work and prevent children from falling into the same traps he had?
â€œTo fight childhood obesity,â€ he said in 2007 when asked why he founded the Jared Foundation. â€œI talk to schools. The kids know me. They watch way too much television. Itâ€™s been neat. It really has positively impacted people. Itâ€™s just in Indiana right now, but weâ€™re hoping to go nationwide.â€
Now that Fogleâ€™s attorney has said FogleÂ will plead guilty toÂ possessing child pornography and having sex with underage girls, the Subway pitchmanâ€™sÂ work with youth rings alarm bells. Statements that once seemed innocuous â€” â€œI speak at schools all around the country,â€ Fogle wrote in his 2006 memoir â€” take on dark undertones.
From Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky to the Catholic Churchâ€™s many scandals, weâ€™ve heard this story before: accused pedophile worked with youth while recruiting children for abuse.
Sandusky is perhaps the most notorious example. A serial child molester, he used the Second Mile, an organization for boys in need that he founded, to find victims: â€œThe Pennsylvania attorney general has said that Sandusky used the Second Mile to prey on young boys and that he met each of the eight boys mentioned in the grand jury report through the foundation,â€ the New York Times wrote in 2011.
BBC star Jimmy Savile, who died in 2011 and was never prosecuted, preyed on patients at a hospital where he volunteered. Via The Washington Postâ€™s Terrence McCoy: â€œWith unfettered access to Leeds General Infirmary, the health service report said, he raped and fondledÂ boys, girls, men and women in offices and corridors. He also allegedly committed sexual acts on dead bodies, and even told several hospital workers that he made jewelry out of one manâ€™s glass eyeball.â€
British MP Cyril Smith, a friend of Savileâ€™s who died in 2010 and was never prosecuted, also allegedly took advantage of children in need. â€œIt has been claimed he abused teenagers at Cambridge House, a privately run â€˜hostel for working boysâ€™ in Rochdale, and raped boys at Knowl View residential school in the town,â€ the Guardian wrote last year.
The court document charging Fogle did not say he actively recruited children through the Jared Foundation â€” now seemingly erased from the Internet â€” in the same way Sandusky, for example, used Second Mile.
But it noted that he â€œwas the organizer of a charitable foundation in Indiana, which held events there and in other statesâ€ as well as â€œa spokesperson for a business having multiple worldwide retail locations, which he frequently visited for marketing purposes.â€Â And it said FogleÂ â€œrepeatedly made travel plans in order to have his business trips coincide with his pursuit of commercial sex acts.â€
The director of the Jared Foundation was Fogleâ€™s alleged conspirator and â€œclose personal friendâ€ who facilitated the production and distribution of child pornography and â€œfrequently accompanied the Defendant on various business trips.â€
Indeed, as the New York Post reportedÂ â€” and photographs confirm â€” Fogle was in New York City working for Subway around the time prosecutors said he â€œengaged in sexual acts with Minor Victim 13â€³ at the Plaza Hotel.
Subway made Fogle a self-help star, but he stands of accused of engaging in crimes while working for a great cause. As bizarre as this seems, itâ€™s nothing new. After all, Bill Cosby, who endowed universities with millions and purported to be a mentor to young people, has been accused of sexual assault (allegations he has repeatedly denied).
The problem is by no means confined to celebrities. Every week, it seems, a coach or teacher somewhere is charged with crimes for allegedly molesting young people who trusted himÂ â€” or were intimidated by him. Thereâ€™s even the recent case of J. Dennis Hastert, former speaker of the House â€” and wrestling coach â€” indicted forÂ breaking banking laws in an attempt to hide â€œpast misconduct,â€ as prosecutors put it,Â related to allegations he molested a student. (Hastert pleaded not guilty.)
â€œThere are family members, friends and neighbors, even teachers, coaches and clergy who treat children better than most adults, listen to what they are really saying and strive to meet their emotional, physical and spiritual needs as a means of fulfilling their own sexual needs and desires,â€ according to the Web site of theÂ National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse. â€œThe â€˜nicerâ€™ the molester appears and the more â€˜troubledâ€™ the child appears, the more difficult it is to detect and believe the sexual abuse.â€
Prosecutors said Fogle, in some cases, â€œmet the minors during social events in Indianaâ€ â€” and expertsÂ say â€œthe vast majority of the abuse against minors is from either a family member, or someone they know such as a coach, teacher or church leader,â€ as Discovery wrote in 2011.
â€œThis notion of the creepy stranger,â€ Fred Berlin, founder and director of the Johns Hopkins Sexual Disorders Clinic in Baltimore, told Discovery,Â â€œthatâ€™s a rarity.â€
Though Fogle has not pleaded guilty yet â€” and hisÂ family said he is â€œseeking medical treatmentâ€ â€” perhaps he was aware that he was using his status as a healer of sorts to hurt young people.
â€œWhen you think about what it is I do, itâ€™s pretty cool,â€ he said in 2004. â€œWhen I come to an event, all I have to do is be me.â€