Inside One Florida Mother’s Brave Yearslong Quest To Expose Subway Spokesperson Jared Fogle
“I need to help save these children, and I would do it all over again,” Rochelle Herman says of the disgraced celebrity’s 14 victims.
Jared Fogle was a beloved spokesperson for Subway when he first skyrocketed to fame, but behind the scenes he was hiding a dark secret — and one mother made it her mission to expose it.
In 2000, Fogle, now 45, became an inspiration to many after it was revealed he shed 245 pounds in less than a year by eating the fast-food restaurant chain’s sandwiches every day.
In 2006, years before he would be arrested and incarcerated in connection with child pornography and traveling to engage in sex acts with minors charges, Rochelle Herman, a radio host and journalist in Sarasota, Florida, sat down for an interview with Fogle. Little did she know their meeting would completely change the course of her life.
“I came to know Jared Fogle better than anyone,” she says. “What I found out about him and who he really was made me feel so much hatred towards him.”
Herman got her first disturbing glimpse into Fogle’s mind as they shot the interview at a middle school. According to the journalist, Fogle whispered into her ear at one point. “Jared leaned over just out of the blue and tells me how hot he thought middle school girls were,” she recalls. “I just shut down. It was such a shock to me.”
Herman says she realized Fogle could be a real danger to children. She had no proof, so she went on what turned out to be a yearslong quest to find out the truth about the national spokesman.
“I knew I needed to get Jared on tape in his own words, his own voice, expressing his desires, his confessions and especially even his plans for children,” she explains. “It wasn’t the most thought-out plan but once the evidence was acquired, I could hand [it] over to the authorities.”
“But,” she adds, “That’s when the story becomes kind of crazy.”
Months after the meeting, Herman interviewed Fogle again and she was able to get his number. “That cell phone number was my connection to be able to talk with him and see what else he had to say, see what other deviant things he might want to share,” she notes.
Herman began to record their telephone conversations. Fogle was initially cautious with what he would talk to her about, and she was careful not to frighten him away. “I gave the appearance that I was somebody he could confide in,” she says.
One evening, the pair met in person at a hotel in West Palm Beach Fogle was staying at and she turned on a recording device she had stuck in her purse to capture what she hoped would be an incriminating conversation. Fogle, she says, became “very hands on, just as though he had a right” but she knew she definitely “did not want to get physical” and let him know his actions weren’t okay.
She claims Fogle then asked her to put her hair in pigtails. “It made my skin crawl,” Herman says, noting the odd request and the comment she claims he made at the middle school left “no doubt” in her mind Fogle was “a pedophile.”
Herman fled the hotel room when Fogle excused himself to the bathroom. She made up the excuse that she had received a phone call from her children and had to leave in a rush.
“The driving force for me was moral obligation,” she says of deciding to carry on with her plan. “What he’s portraying to the audience, to the children, to his peers, to his handlers, that’s not him, he’s hiding behind a mask.”
With time Fogle began to trust Herman more and more. “I love how I can be completely, utterly honest with you about everything,” he told her during one conversation she recorded.
Herman says she was a “honey trap” for Fogle and eventually got him to begin to discuss his interest in minors. She once asked him what he liked about young children. “They just have such nice, pure bodies, you know?” he told her, according to the recording.
Soon, Fogle was calling Herman incessantly, sometimes as many as 15 to 20 times a day, she says.
Around mid-2007, Herman recalls Fogle really started to open up to her and she now had audio tape proving he had expressed sexual interest in children who were as young as around 9 or 10. She decided it was time to go to the FBI, and she began working with the agency as an undercover asset. “It was very scary because it made what I discovered real,” she says.
Since having fantasies isn’t illegal, Herman says the FBI “wanted evidence of names, places where he was going.”
“But specifically,” she adds, “they wanted to find the victims.”
The situation with Fogle grew “darker and darker” as three more years passed and the FBI continued to gather evidence, Herman says. She recounts one disturbing incident in which, during a recorded conversation, Fogle asked to see her then-11-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter naked. “They were in his crosshairs; they were in his mind, in his thoughts,” she says.
“He made me feel so much hatred toward him,” she continues, adding she’d become “terrified” of the celebrity and “what he was capable of.”
With time, Fogle began to distance himself from Herman. It’s her opinion the Subway spokesman was growing tired of her not meeting with him in person.
Herman’s singlehanded efforts to put Fogle in prison got a major boost when Russell Taylor, the former executive director of the Jared Foundation, was arrested in Indiana in April 2015. Accused of possessing and producing child pornography, he eventually pleaded guilty to 30 child pornography and sexual exploitation crimes, and a judge sentenced him to 27 years in prison.
Fogle quickly got swept up in the scandal. On July 7, 2015, the FBI raided his home in Zionville, Indiana.
“I was shocked. Oh my gosh, it’s actually happening,” Herman recalls of first hearing the news.
That August, Fogle pleaded guilty to one count of distribution and receipt of child pornography, and one count of traveling to engage in unlawful sex acts with minors. The disgraced Subway representative was sentenced to over 15 years in prison and will be required to register as a sex offender upon his release.
“As far as I’m aware, there is no evidence to support that Jared Fogle ever did any of the things he discussed with Rochelle Herman, but the existence of the tapes shows he had a sexual interest in minors and a longstanding and persistent pattern of behavior,” former Asst. U.S. Attorney Steve DeBrota says. “It’s not one moment of bad judgment.”
Herman says she suffered post-traumatic stress disorder from the whole ordeal involving Fogle and it all took a toll on her health and her family’s wellbeing.
Still, she says, “I would never be able to live my life knowing that I stood down. I needed to help save these children, and I would do it all over again.”
For more on this story, stream Jared From Subway: Catching A Monster on discovery+.