A former Subway franchisee claims she warned Subway about Jared Fogle’s sexual interest in children seven years ago, and the sandwich chain did nothing.
Cindy Mills says Fogle, who was Subway’s pitchman for 15 years, started calling her daily and making disturbing comments to her in early 2008, shortly after they had met at a Subway function.
“He would just tell me he really liked them young,” Mills, who was a franchisee from 2006 to 2012 in Pensacola, Florida, told Business Insider.
Fogle, the brand’s spokesman for 15 years,was charged last 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.
Mills says Fogle admitted to her he had sex with minors, telling her about trysts with child prostitutes in Thailand and the US.
Mills previously told us Fogle allegedly tried to get her to sell herself for sex on Craigslist. When she first spoke with us, she requested anonymity. She didn’t want more press attention at the time. But now that Fogle’s case is fully exposed, she feels comfortable using her name.
Mills says she shared this information with Subway in 2008, and says her complaints were ignored by the company. So she hired a lawyer.
“I thought, ‘This man has a lot of money. Subway has a lot money. They have made each other a lot of money,'” Mills said. “I was worried. I was scared to death.”
She asked her lawyer, Robert Beasley, to explore legal action against Subway for a potential breach of the franchiser-franchisee contact.
But Subway couldn’t be found culpable, Beasley said, because Fogle wasn’t officially an employee of Subway. Fogle was instead employed by the Subway Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust, or SFAFT.
SFAFT, which is in charge of Subway’s global marketing, is legally viewed as a separate entity from Subway — even though it shares the same address as the company headquarters.
“They have pretty well isolated themselves from Jared’s acts,” Beasley told Business Insider. “We couldn’t find an avenue to pursue where it would connect his acts and statements to any legal liability to Subway. Combine that with [Mills’] unwillingness to get out in public and say this, and you end up staying silent.”
Subway didn’t respond to a request for comment to this story. The company said Wednesday that it is investigating whether executives were aware of Fogle’s interest in children.
Mills says that when she contacted Subway about Fogle’s behaviour in 2008, the company directed her to Jeff Moody, who was the CEO of SFAFT at the time.
Mills says she spoke to Moody on the phone and told him about Fogle’s disturbing comments about children.
Mills says Moody cut her off in the middle of the conversation and said, “Please don’t tell me any more.” He indicated that he had dealt with similar complaints in the past, according to Mills.
“He said, ‘Don’t worry, he has met someone. She is a teacher and he seems to love her very much and we think she will help keep him grounded,'” Mills recalls.
Moody, now CEO of Rita’s Italian Ice, did not respond to requests for comment.
In a July 31 statement regarding this matter, Subway told Business Insider, “Jeff Moody hasn’t worked for the brand for years and we have no record of this allegation.”
Mills says she didn’t drop the issue after her alleged conversation with Moody. She says she also contacted a regional Subway manager who was tasked with making sure franchisees have all appropriate signage and advertising in their stores.
She says she asked the manager, whose name she could not recall, if she could remove all Jared Fogle signage from her store.
“Every time I would see him on TV in a commercial with his arms around these children, it would kill me,” Mills said. “I couldn’t stand it anymore.”
Mills says her request to remove Fogle marketing from her store was denied.
Mills says she went on to share her concerns about Fogle with two additional SFAFT executives at a Subway-sponsored NASCAR event in Phoenix, which she attended with her step-son. She had won tickets to the event because she was a franchisee.
Mills said she was terrified that Jared might show up. She says she pulled two SFAFT executives aside and told them everything. They assured her that Fogle wasn’t scheduled to attend the event.
When asked why she never went to law enforcement with her concerns, Mills said it was because she was terrified of Fogle because of his money and influence. She says she was also concerned about her job with Subway.
“I thought ‘No one is going to believe me, he looks like the all-American boy’ — but he’s not,” she said.
The last time Mills saw Fogle was at Subway’s annual convention in 2011, which was held in San Francisco that year.
Mills was seated in a giant ballroom at a dinner with hundreds of guests, when she spotted Moody and Fogle walking toward her, she recalls.
They took a seat next to one another at the table beside hers, according to Mills.
“I felt so uneasy,” Mills said. Not long after, Mills sold her Subway franchises and got out of the business altogether.
She said she decided to come forward with her story in the hopes of inspiring others at Subway with information about Fogle’s past to come forward, as well.
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