Longtime Subway sandwich pitchman Jared Fogle has agreed to plead guilty to allegations that he paid for sex acts with minors and received child abuse images that he knew had been secretly produced by the former director of his charitable foundation, federal prosecutors said in court documents released on Wednesday.
Fogle will plead guilty to one count each of travelling to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor and the distribution and receipt of child abuse images after appearing in court in Indianapolis on Wednesday morning.
Prosecutors said that under the plea deal, each side will seek a sentence from 5 to 12.5 years in prison. Further hearing dates have not yet been decided.
Court documents said Fogle agrees to pay $1.4m in restitution to 14 minor victims, who will each receive $100,000. Fogle will also be required to register as a sex offender and undergo treatment for sexual disorders.
Local and federal authorities said on Wednesday they examined tens of thousands of text messages and emails as part of their investigation into Fogle.
US attorney Josh Minkler said data reviewed by the Indiana state police included more than 159,000 text messages, 27,000 emails, 47,000 images and 3,000 videos. Fourteen underage victims were identified and interviewed.
Fogle’s attorney Jeremy Margolis said Fogle suffered from a medical condition and “expects to go to prison”.
The former spokesman’s wife, Katie Fogle, released a statement through her attorney on Wednesday saying she was seeking a divorce.
“Obviously, I am extremely shocked and disappointed by the recent developments involving Jared. I am in the process of seeking a dissolution of the marriage. My focus is exclusively on the wellbeing of my children.”
She said this would be her family’s only statement and requested privacy.
Fogle, 37, became Subway’s pitchman after shedding more than 200 pounds as a college student, in part by eating the chain’s sandwiches. He was the public face of the company for more than 15 years – a period in which its number of locations tripled, making Subway the world’s largest restaurant chain.
Subway suspended the partnership in July after agents raided his home in the affluent Indianapolis suburb of Zionsville, and the chain said this week that it had ended its relationship with Fogle.
Federal prosecutors allege in the documents that the married father of two travelled to pay for sex acts, including with minors, from 2007 until as recently as June and that he repeatedly planned business trips to coincide with his sexual pursuits.
On 3 November 2012, Fogle allegedly paid a 17-year-old girl who he had found online to engage in sex acts while he was staying at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, according to the papers. Several months later, he again paid her for sex acts while staying at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, according to the document, which says the girl told Fogle her age when they first met and that he knew she was a minor.
After the first meeting, the document said, Fogle texted the girl and offered to pay her a fee if she could find him another underage girl to pay for sex acts.
During these discussions, Fogle “stated that he would accept a 16-year-old girl, while stating that the younger the girl, the better”, the document said.
Between 2011 and 2013, Fogle also repeatedly sent text messages to other escorts, “soliciting them to provide him with access to minors as young as 14 to 15 years”, the document said, adding that he would only make such requests after engaging in sex acts with the escorts to “insure that they were not undercover police officers”.
The document also alleged that Fogle on multiple occasions received sexually explicit images and videos produced by Russell Taylor, 43, who ran the charitable Jared Foundation. The foundation sought to raise awareness about childhood obesity and arranged for Fogle to visit schools and urge children to adopt healthy eating and exercise habits.
Two months before Fogle’s home was raided, authorities arrested Taylor on seven counts of production of child abuse images and one count of possession. Investigators said they discovered a cache of sexually explicit photos and videos Taylor allegedly produced by secretly filming minor children at his home.
After those charges were filed, Fogle issued a statement saying he was shocked by the allegations and was severing all ties with Taylor.
Prosecutors also allege that Fogle received from Taylor multiple images and videos, some of which were taken by a video camera hidden in a clock radio that filmed children changing clothes or bathing. Some were taken in buildings were Taylor lived.
The document says Fogle knew those depicted were minors, some as young as 13 or 14 years old, and in some cases knew the minors involved by name and had met them “during social events in Indiana”.
In other cases, the document said, Taylor allegedly obtained sexually explicit images taken by others outside the US, including videos of children around age six, and shared them with Fogle.
Taylor’s attorney, Brad Banks, has said his client was briefly hospitalized after the allegations against him first surfaced. Sheriff’s officials have said Taylor tried to take his own life in jail.
Banks said on Tuesday that his client remains in federal custody and that prosecutors have until 3 September to issue a grand jury indictment.
Fogle’s history with Subway reaches back to his days at Indiana University. The college paper published a story on his weight loss that was then picked up by national media.
Soon after, Subway’s advertising agency contacted Fogle and asked if he wanted to be in a TV commercial. The ensuing ad campaign resonated in part because Fogle seemed like such a regular guy, which made weight loss seem simple and achievable.
In 2013, Subway celebrated the 15-year anniversary of Fogle’s famous diet by featuring him in a Super Bowl ad and making him available to news organizations for interviews. At the time, Fogle said he still travelled regularly on behalf of Subway. He also said he had a Subway “black card” that let him eat at the chain for free.
The company, based in Milford, Connecticut, has declined to provide details on its financial arrangements with Fogle.