Former Subway pitchman Jared Fogle once tried to persuade a journalist to put hidden cameras in her young children’s rooms, according to the woman’s claims.
“I had two young children at the time, and he talked to me about installing hidden cameras in their rooms and asked me if I would choose which child I would like him to watch,” Rochelle Herman told CNN’s “AC360.”
Herman says she has been working with the FBI for nearly a decade in its investigation into Fogle, who is now 37 and the father of two children under the age of 5.
Herman told CNN that she wore wires for more than four years to record conversations with Fogle in which he talked to her “numerous times over the course of years about having sex with minors.”
“He talked about sex with underage children,” she told CNN. “It was just something that he really, really enjoyed,” she said.
Fogle was charged this week with possessing and distributing child pornography and travelling across state lines to have sex with minors. He plans to plead guilty to the crimes and pay $US1.4 million in restitution to 14 victims.
Herman first grew alarmed by Fogle’s interest in minors during a health event at a Florida school in 2007. She was covering the event for a local TV station.
“He told me that he thought middle school girls were so hot,” Herman told CNN. “I was in shock … I actually was questioning, ‘Did I really just hear what I think I heard?’ I looked over at my cameraman … and he was just astounded,” she said.
Herman contacted the FBI about Fogle’s comments and worked with them for years in its investigation.
Fogle first rose to fame as Subway’s spokesman 15 years ago, after losing more than 200 pounds by eating their sandwiches. He reportedly has a net worth of $US15 million.
Subway’s decision to suspend its relationship with Fogle marks an end to the chain’s most lucrative endorsement deal.
The company’s chief marketing officer told the New York Daily News in 2013 that Fogle is likely responsible for one-third to one-half of Subway’s growth in the previous 15 years.
In addition to his work for Subway, Fogle also started the Jared Foundation, a charitable group aiming to help children develop better eating and exercise habits.
According to prosecutors, Fogle often scheduled business trips to coincide with his sexual pursuits.
Subway claims it had no knowledge of Fogle’s behaviour. The company ended its relationship with Fogle after the FBI raided his house last month.
A former Subway franchisee claims that she made company executives aware of his alleged interest in children years ago, however.
As Business Insider previously reported, the franchisee claims she shared disturbing text message conversations from 2008 with Subway in which Fogle asked her to set up a meeting with her underage cousin, according to the franchisee’s lawyer.
In the messages, Fogle also repeatedly asks the woman to advertise herself on Craigslist for sex with other men. He asks her if he can watch the sexual acts and tells her she can make about $US500 per act.
The woman claims she contacted Subway’s corporate office regarding the issue, and she requested that Subway allow her to remove all marketing related to Fogle from her store, according to the lawyer.
She met with two levels of management, shared the messages with them, “and specifically requested not to have his imagery and merchandising related to him in her stores,” the lawyer said. “She also specifically warned them that he should not be interacting with young people.”
“Jared Fogle’s actions are inexcusable and do not represent our brand’s values,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday. “We had already ended our relationship with Jared.”
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