'Jared From Subway' doc features sisters who survived Jared Fogle's depraved sexual abuse of children: 'We had to tell our truth'
Christian Showalter was 13, and her younger sister, Hannah Parrett, was about 11, when they met Jared Fogle, the Subway guy. This was more than a decade ago, when Fogle was still a celebrated spokesman for the company — he had famously lost 245 pounds eating the sandwich chain's food — and he was everywhere: commercials, late-night talk shows and even pitching his own foundation to fight childhood obesity.
The sisters, who grew up in a small town in Indiana, remember being wowed by their association with a celebrity. It happened because their stepfather at the time, Russell Taylor, was running the Jared Foundation. Later, it would come out that, during this time, Taylor also was secretly recording Hannah, Christian and their friends over video, through cameras hidden in their home's bedrooms and bathrooms, and compiling the collected footage for Fogle, who was ultimately sentenced to more than 15 years in prison, after pleading guilty to charges of having sex with minors and receiving child pornography. Taylor, along with Hannah and Christian's mother, now known as Angela Baldwin, were convicted for the roles they played in the scheme and related crimes, and were sentenced last year to 27 and 33 years, respectively, behind bars.
Now the sisters are front and center in a new ID docuseries, Jared From Subway: Catching a Monster, sharing their horrific experience, which required them, of course, to revisit it all. They tell Yahoo Entertainment that it was something they felt compelled to do.
"I think the main reason that we participated in this documentary was to, not only have a voice, but maybe be the voice for other people who don't yet have that," Showalter says. "And to remind them that, you do have it. You just haven't gotten in touch with that inner voice that you really need. And I think we lived so many years… over seven years, in the dark. And not speaking our truth and, if anything, being told not to speak it, and once we knew that this was coming out, we knew that we had to be a part of it. We had to tell our truth. We owed it to our inner — we are survivors, but our inner victims. We owed it to those girls that lived through that to pursue it and speak what happened to them."
Watch an exclusive clip from Jared From Subway: Catching a Monster:
Parrett says that she's in a much better place than she was when the story broke.
"For a long time there," Parrett says, "I think it brought up a lot of negative feelings every time. I would see something on the internet, or even just being in a small town, you know, people talk. People know. Going to school and just being out in public and hearing people talk about it openly, as if it wasn't your life… I feel like that brought out a lot of negative feelings for me. But now, though, when I see those kinds of things, it really just reminds me of how far I've come from that. I don't start to think about all of the negative things and all of the drama. I see those things and it just reminds me of how far I've come."
"It becomes less of a trigger and more of just a reminder of what we went through," she says. "Instead of putting us into an emotional spiral, it more or less just reassures us, 'Hey, you survived this and you can keep surviving it.'"
Not that it's been easy. For starters, the women no longer have contact with their mother, whom they acknowledge played a key part in their abuse and now refer to simply as Angela.
"They're all equally responsible: Jared, Russell and Angela, but when I look at the reasons they're responsible, it's for all different reasons," Showalter explains. "Jared, I think, is responsible for initiating it and for wanting the pornography and wanting to prey on, not only me and my sister, but our friends and other young girls and young boys. But when it comes to Russell, I think he needs to hold the responsibility of being the actual person who set the cameras up, actually got the footage. And Jared needs to take the responsibility for accepting the footage and getting off on the footage. They need to all be blamed for it but there are so many different reasons why they should be held accountable."
The story is bleak, but the women are working toward a happier ending.
"I say it all the time, I love life now," Parrett says. "And I just think that it's not necessarily about, you know, the things that happen. It's about what we do with them. And for me, participating — I have groups and meetings around my area and things like that and talking with other people — and just sharing my story, that helps a lot of people. And in doing that, it helps me. And I'm grateful for that. I mean, of course, I hate that these things happened, but I love what I'm doing about it. And that’s what means the most to me."
The sisters plan to watch the three-part series on TV. One of the things they're most looking forward to is hearing the perspective of another woman featured in the doc, a former Florida radio host named Rochelle Herman. She had befriended Fogle during the peak of his fame, when he was regularly interacting with children. After it became clear to her that he had a sexual interest in them, she set out to make sure that ended, bringing the situation to the attention of the FBI and even working with them to document evidence. They've never actually spoken with her.
Parrett jokes that she might have to suddenly get up and grab a snack when she's on the screen.
"When you're on camera, you kind of just critique your every little move," she reminds everyone who's ever participated in a Zoom meeting. "But I'm excited. I'm truly excited."
All three parts of Jared From Subway: Catching a Monster premiere back-to-back Monday, March 6 at 9 p.m. on ID and will be available to stream the same day on Discovery+.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, help is available. RAINN's National Sexual Assault Hotline is here for survivors 24/7 with free, anonymous help. 800.656.HOPE (4673) and online.rainn.org.