Former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle is headed to prison for having sex with at least one child, receiving and distributing child pornography. Like 15-year-old A.J. Gonzales, the 15-year-old boy who allegedly killed little Maddy Middleton in Santa Cruz, #BadJared is not one of the usual suspects. How then, do we protect our kids when their abusers or killers do not conform to stereotypes?
Since at least 2007 #BadJared has been using his wealth, position and subterfuge to victimize and exploit America’s children. He was aware of and possessed, photos and video created and supplied by Russ Taylor, the disgraced Executive Director of Fogle’s children’s charity. Instead of notifying the police he possessed and distributed the kiddy porn. He has also pled guilty to paying at least two underage girls for sex. In all, there are 14-known victims named in the indictment against #BadJared.
In Santa Cruz, CA 8-year-old Maddy Middleton was missing for more than a day when her lifeless body was discovered in a dumpster at her apartment complex and her teenaged neighbor was arrested for her kidnapping, raping and murdering her. By outward appearance the neighbor boy was a non-threatening presence at the apartment complex who was well liked by the younger children.
Neither perp is a dirty old man in a trench coat. Neither was a registered sex offender, and both were seeming well liked within their community. In other words neither were waving red flags. How then do we protect our kids from predators that lurk below the radar?
First, I think it is important that children understand that they don’t have to automatically submit to the requests of every adult put in front of them. They shouldn’t have to kiss Aunt Sally, stay around for extra Soccer practice with Coach Larry, or prepare the sacrament with Father John. They should be taught to be respectful but skeptical of the adults that they come into contact with. They should trust their feelings if something doesn’t feel right, and feel comfortable declining invitations. Remember, it is a well-known fact that individuals who have sexual designs on children will find ways in their professions and volunteer activities to gain unsupervised access to your kids.
Parents should have ongoing safety conversations with their children. Look upon it a learning opportunity that will help them grow up into healthy, productive citizens. They should always check with their parents first. They should always be with at least one other trusted person. They should trust their feelings and be willing to put distance between themselves and the cause of their unease. I also think that it is a good idea to give your children cell phones. This gives them 24/7 direct access to you as well as enable you to track their movements through the cell phone’s GPS capability. Well…at least track the device.
Both of these goons are going to do hard time for their crimes. But will it be enough? Maddy has no life therefore no prospects, yet her killer will linger (at state expense) for decades. Who would be willing to calculate the damage done to #BadJared’s 14-victims? Fortunately, The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003 established a federal, civil right of action for trafficking victims to sue their traffickers. Let’s hope that his victims litigate him into bankruptcy. Then, when he emerges from prison in a few years, his bank account will match his morality and his victims just may have a chance to put their lives back together.