Lessons on ‘Grooming’ and Spotting a Pedophile From the Journalist Who Exposed Jared Fogle From Subway

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

It’s day three of ‘Hot Crime Summer’ on The Megyn Kelly Show, and Megyn is taking a closer look at the disturbing fall from grace of Jared Fogle (a.k.a ‘The Subway Guy’). The former Subway pitchman went from an inspiring success story to a disgraced criminal after he was revealed to be a pedophile and pleaded guilty to charges of possession or distribution of child pornography and traveling across state lines to have commercial sex with a minor. He is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence.

In many ways, Fogle’s downfall began in 2006 when he met Florida-based radio host and journalist Rochelle Herman for an interview. His flirtatious behavior and bizarre comments about finding middle school girls attractive set off alarm bells for Herman, who proceeded to spend the next several years getting close to Fogle and working as an informant for the FBI.

On Wednesday’s show, Herman joined Megyn to discuss her role in the new three-part Discovery docuseries, Jared from Subway: Catching a Monster, how she helped expose Fogle, and the lessons she learned about ‘grooming’ and spotting a pedophile.

What We Know About Jared Fogle’s Background

Fogle’s rise to fame came in the late 1900s and early 2000s after he lost nearly 300 pounds by incorporating Subway sandwiches into his diet plan. He ended up starring in some 300 commercials for the sandwich chain as the face of the brand and became a household name. In 2004, he founded the Jared Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on raising awareness about childhood obesity through educational programs.

In the seven-plus years since federal authorities raided Fogle’s Indiana home as part of an investigation into child pornography, many have grappled with the basic questions of how and why someone like Fogle could have such tendencies and essentially be hiding in plain sight.

Megyn wondered if Fogle had perhaps been the victim of sexual abuse as child, a question Herman said she asked him directly. “He said he was not, but I think there’s a lot of people who, if they were, I don’t think they’re just going to come out and say that,” she explained. “Even if he was comfortable with me, perhaps that just hit too close to home.”

What Herman came to believe as she got to know Fogle is that the pedophilic tendencies are “within his genetic makeup” and part of a “default in how he’s wired.” What struck her most is that he “doesn’t even acknowledge that there’s a problem.”

Jared Fogle’s ‘Grooming’ Techniques

Herman, who is a mother of two, first became suspicious of Fogle when he made an off-handed remark to her about nine and 10-year-old kids being “really hot.” She decided to befriend him in an effort to get him to open up more, and she eventually worked as an informant for the FBI. “You were sort of pretending that you were fine with his predilections and [discussing] how you could be of assistance to him with it,” Megyn said of Herman. “You were trying to learn about his methods, and you did learn.”

A big part of Fogle’s ‘grooming’ techniques involved making young children comfortable with things that would otherwise be considered ‘inappropriate’ for their age. “As far as the grooming, it was wrestling in bed, tickling, and gradually getting closer to the private parts, and then doing like a ‘daring’ to turn it into a game,” Herman recalled.

She said Fogle always wanted her to “dress accordingly” in skimpy clothing and bikinis in front of her kids and their friends (she told Megyn she never obliged) in an effort to scope out who she thought “would be best” for him – the younger the better. “Initially, his statement to me was how hot he thought middle school girls were,” Herman explained. “At the end, it went all the way from infant to prepubescent.”

Another quality Fogle looked for, according to Herman, is children from “broken homes” because they he considered them more susceptible. “He used his popularity because there was such an allure and the children were so drawn to it,” she shared. “He had it figured out… he just studied children on how to get closer and closer. That’s what his focus was.”

What Parents Need to Be Aware of

What Herman came to understand about Fogle and his approach to luring children can serve as a warning for parents everywhere. For starters, Megyn said it is “so disturbing” that single parents may have to be more alert when it comes to watching out for child predators. “So, now moms or single dads who are raising kids by themselves have to worry about their kids being singled out for targeting by a pedophile because they’re from a ‘broken’ home, because they may have an extra sadness in their lives that some sick twisted eff’er will take advantage of,” she lamented. “These are the realities that we have to wrestle with.”

And then there is the hyper-sexualized content that children are increasingly being exposed to at earlier and earlier ages. “The inappropriate sex talk at a young age is relevant,” Megyn said. “We’re debating this right now on a national level about these books that are coming into the K through 12 education system.” 

While some protest the so-called “banning” of books, Megyn doesn’t see it that way. “I think the truth is they’re not banning – they’re pulling books out of children’s school libraries that are not age appropriate,” she explained. “People defending that action of pulling the books will say the people who want this in front of the children are the groomers, and I see the point.” In her view, “inappropriate sex talk in front of children isn’t just improper, it can actually lead to very dangerous things in that child’s future.”

Herman agreed that you don’t have to have a “degree in mental health” to see the dangers this material poses. “If you look statistically speaking over the years, homeschooling has grown drastically as a personal choice,” she said. “From my understanding, a lot of it has to do with not just men but also women violating children – educators, clergy group leaders, politicians, even law enforcement. I know that there’s just a small amount, but small is not none.”

The unfortunate reality, Megyn said, is that this is something parents have to consider. “These moms are like, ‘I’m not putting my kid in the school, and my kid is not joining the Boy Scouts and isn’t going to be an altar boy,’” she concluded. “I mean, I can relate to some of that to some extent – especially when they’re really little, can’t really vocalize, and could be taken advantage of. You have to be so careful.”

You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Herman about Fogle by tuning in to episode 572 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.