NOBLESVILLE, Ind. -- The ex-wife of disgraced Subway spokesman Jared Fogle held a news conference Monday, discussing the lawsuit filed on her behalf against Subway.
Katie McLaughlin filed for divorce from Fogle after her ex-husband admitted to paying for sex with minors; their divorce was finalized in November 2015. In a statement announcing her plans to dissolve the marriage, she said she was "shocked and disappointed" by her husband's actions.
Fogle pleaded guilty to distribution of child pornography and traveling to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor as part of a plea agreement in a child exploitation case. He was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison in the highly publicized case.
The lawsuit filed in Hamilton County alleges that Subway was aware of Fogle's conduct and asked him about it on numerous occasions but didn't do enough to thoroughly investigate him. Court documents list three occasions during Fogle's tenure with Subway in which the company received reports of Fogle's interest in sexual activity with minors in 2004, 2008 and 2011. The company didn't escalate those reports to law enforcement.
In the 2004 case, Fogle approached a minor about a sex act. In the 2008 case, a Subway franchisee in Florida said Fogle made disturbing comments about children, telling her that he "really liked them young." The 2011 incident involved a Florida journalist who expressed concerns after Fogle made comments to her that he wanted to perform illegal sex acts with children; the journalist later worked with the FBI to record conversations with him.
In two of the cases, a public relations official talked to Fogle, who denied the allegations. That's about as far as the company's investigative efforts went, court documents said. The company hoped that Fogle's engagement to McLaughlin would "keep him grounded" and out of trouble.
"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," then-CEO Jeff Moody was quoted in court documents as saying in response to the 2008 allegation.
The "teacher" in question was McLaughlin, the lawsuit indicated. He and McLaughlin were engaged in 2009; they married a year later. The lawsuit said McLaughlin wouldn't have married Fogle if she'd known about the allegations.
"Subway failed every test of corporate responsibility in its response to each of these complaints," according to the lawsuit, which accuses Subway of continuing to promote Fogle in its own self-interest at the expense of children's safety. The lawsuit noted that Fogle toured schools around the country to promote the company's products and its childhood obesity prevention initiative. The company later portrayed Fogle as a family man with a wholesome image despite claims others made about his sexual interest in minors.
The lawsuit said Subway used McLaughlin's and her children's likenesses without consent in commercials for the "Jared the Family Man" campaign in 2015, which aired more than 2,300 commercials from March 2015 through July 2015.
"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," the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit accused Subway of invasion of privacy (misappropriation of likeness), intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence. The suit seeks damages from Subway, including statutory damages, treble damages and attorney fees.
The specific amount of damages being sought has not been determined yet. McLaughlin said her children ask about the situation daily, and she needs answers from the company.
"When the FBI banged on my door on July 7, 2015, I thought it was the worst day of my life. I had no idea the nightmare was just beginning," she said. Finding out that your husband and the father of your children is a child predator, and knowing that his job involved him vising schools on a regular basis is devastating."
Fogle agreed to pay $1.4 million--$100,000 each--to 14 minor victims. Federal prosecutors said he traded explicit videos and photos of children with his friend, Russell Taylor.
McLaughlin said the victims "are never far from my thoughts and prayers." She stated that she knows the healing process is lifelong.
In July 2015, investigators from the FBI and Indiana State Police raided Fogle's home in Zionsville, where they recovered computers and other electronic equipment. Fogle, a popular spokesman for Subway sandwiches, saw his relationship with the company dissolve. Subway has since removed references to Fogle from its website.
Fogle's attorneys appealed his sentence, saying a judge overstepped her authority when she sentenced him. However, the court ruled in June 2016 that the sentence was proper.
Fogle was transferred to a federal prison in Colorado where he's currently serving his time.
A Subway spokesperson said they cannot provide a comment on pending legal action.