The former Subway pitchman is now suing the parents of one of his victims, saying they should take responsibility for her distress. We talked to a legal expert about how cases like this can make it even more difficult for victims of sexual abuse to...
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Ex-Subway spokesman and convicted sex offender Jared Fogle is now suing the parents of one of his underage victims. In a federal motion filed yesterday, Fogle says B.T. and J.T., the girl's parents, are the ones who should be held accountable for her distress.
Last year, Fogle pled guilty to child pornography and traveling to have sex with a minor; he was forced to pay each of his 14 victims $100,000 in restitution and is now serving 15 years in federal prison. Russell Taylor, the former head of the Jared Foundation and the man who secretly recorded minors while they were changing clothes and bathing, was sentenced to 27 years.
In March, one of the girls who was photographed nude filed a compensatory lawsuit against Fogle and Taylor, seeking $150,000 from each party. The plaintiff, known as Jane Doe, cited personal injuries, emotional distress, and invasion of privacy as cause. In the suit filed on her behalf by her parents, she says that she "has and will continue to suffer severe emotional distress and personal injuries" because of the defendants' actions.
But according to court papers obtained by The Daily Mail, Fogle says that he has "documented evidence" to prove that it was really the victim's parents who caused emotional harm and distress to their daughter; therefore, he says, they should share the blame with him.
In his motion, Fogle, who'd previously taken "full responsibility" for his actions, states that a contentious divorce and custody battle placed undue stress and anxiety on Doe. "B.T. and J.T. maintained a hateful and abusive relationship toward each other, which included, but was not limited to, engaging in frequent fighting and arguing between themselves; abusing alcohol and getting drunk; and engaging in frequent fighting, physical abuse, and arguing with Jane Doe," Fogle's lawyers write.
Furthermore, the motion reads, it was the "outrageous and reckless" behavior of B.T. and J.T. that caused their daughter to abuse alcohol and drugs and consider taking her own life.
Mary G. Leary is a professor of law at The Catholic University of America and former director of the National Center for the Prosecution of Child Abuse. She tells Broadly that it's not unusual for a defendant in a sex crimes case to attack the victim or victim's family in their defense at trial or in a countersuit.
It's also not uncommon, she says, for a defendant to try to challenge the assignment of blame, especially if they think they have proof showing otherwise. She offers the analogy of a car accident—when two people disagree over the origin of neck pain, especially if the offending driver knows the victim had been complaining of pain for months, and the victim says the pain started after the accident. According to Fogle's motion, Jane Doe was "diagnosed as suffering from a major depressive disorder before she learned of any allegations" involving him and Taylor.
This is one of the many reasons why people don't go forward with reporting sexual abuse or exploitation.
But this could also be a posturing technique, Leary says, which is not uncommon in litigation. "If anyone else is thinking about suing [Fogle], they're going to think twice," she explains. Other parents of victims who were contemplating a lawsuit may reconsider because of the public scrutiny.
"This is one of the many reasons why people don't go forward with reporting sexual abuse or exploitation," Leary continues. "They see the victims get put through the ringer."