After months of denying any prior knowledge of Jared Fogle's criminal activity, Subway is acknowledging that it did receive one "serious" complaint against the longtime pitchman. Two accusers have claimed that they filed complaints with the chain — allegations that have been fervently denied until now.
"The harm he caused so many is inexcusable and we continue to extend sympathies to his victims and their families."
In a statement issued on Friday, Subway reveals that it has completed an internal investigation to determine whether the company was in fact alerted to Fogle's illegal activity regarding underage girls and child pornography, according to the Chicago Tribune. The investigation included a review of more than a million online comments as well as interviews with employees and former employees as well as members of the Subway Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust, a separate entity that employed Fogle.
Subway representative Kristen McMahon says the company uncovered one complaint in 2011 from Rochelle Herman-Walrond, the former journalist from Florida who claims she helped gather evidence to bolster the FBI case against Fogle over a period of four years. Herman Walrond initially befriended Fogle during one of his trips to Sarasota, but eventually became disturbed by Fogle after he made inappropriate comments to her about middle school girls. Subway would not revealed the full nature of the Herman-Walrond's complaint. However, McMahon says it "expressed concerns about Mr. Fogle," but included "nothing that implied anything about sexual behavior or criminal activity involving Mr. Fogle."
The company further acknowledges that the complaint was "not properly escalated or acted upon," but notes insists that it "found no further evidence of any other complaints of any kind regarding Mr. Fogle that were submitted to or shared with SUBWAY." Former Subway franchisee Cindy Mills — who had a sexual relationship with Jared Fogle — charged last month that she warned multiple company executives about Fogle in 2008. Fogle had allegedly boasted about having "amazing" sex with a 16-year-old in damning texts to Mills.
Subway suspended and eventually severed ties with the longtime spokesman after the FBI raided his home in July. According to Business Insider, the chain says it recognizes "the harm [Fogle] caused so many is inexcusable and we continue to extend sympathies to his victims and their families." The company adds that it is continuing to improve and strengthen "its processes for reviewing and escalating customer comments, complaints and inquiries" including adding better tracking, follow-up systems, and "newer technologies to help better manage processes."
Fogle, whose Subway Diet story inspired millions to lose weight by eating sandwiches, plead guilty to charges of obtaining and distributing child pornography and engaging in sexual acts with minors last month. As part of his plea deal, Fogle will pay $100,000 to each of 14 underage victims (a total of $1.4 million), and will serve at least five years in prison. He could be forced to serve as many as 20 years.