Subway acknowledged Friday that it had been warned in 2011 about Jared Fogle’s interest in young girls, but had not responded because there was no indication its then-spokesman had acted on the attraction.
The franchisor issued a statement to selected media after an internal investigation that reportedly included the scrutiny of a million emails and other communications.
It apparently found what was termed a “serious” alert from former Florida journalist Rochelle Herman-Walrond, who would emerge as a key figure in authorities’ decision earlier this summer to pursue legal action against Fogle. Fogle, who no longer serves as Subway’s spokesman, has agreed to plead guilty to charges he had sex with underage women and received child pornography. He also agreed to pay the 14 identified victims a total of $1.4 million.
Herman-Walrond has said she recorded her communications with Fogle for four years before the authorities raided his Indiana home this summer. It is not clear why she was communicating with the pitchman.
A franchisee claimed she had alerted Subway’s franchisee-run advertising cooperative years ago of Fogle’s sexual interest. Subway has said it found no records of that heads-up, but has noted that the ad co-op was independently run at the time.
Subway has strived in recent weeks to distance itself from Fogle, who approached Subway while he was a college student because of the weight he had lost on a diet that included Subway’s sandwiches. The chain made Fogle the star of its marketing campaign and a key figure in the brand’s positioning as a healthful alternative to the big burger chains.