Justice

How Jared Fogle's Defense Is Justifying His Behavior

Former Subway spokesperson Jared Fogle was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison after he pled guilty to having sex with minors and distributing child pornography. Dr. John Bradford, a forensic psychiatrist who testified for Fogle's defense at the sentencing hearing, claimed Fogle has "mild pedophilia" and said that Fogle fell victim to "hypersexuality" after significantly losing weight.

Bradford said that Fogle admitted to paying a minimum of about $12,000 each year for sex, Reuters reports.

"He traded a horrible food addiction for a horrible sex addiction," said defense attorney Jeremy Margolis.

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Fogle famously lost more than 200 pounds after going on a Subway diet, prompting him to become the sandwich purveyor's most visible representative. Dr. Bradford claimed that this major weight loss contributed to changes in Fogle's behavior.

"Once he lost weight, it seemed as though in a short time he had hyper-sexuality," Dr. Bradford said, according to the Indianapolis Star. "There are brain disorders that can be associated with sexual drive."

Dr. Bradford added that Fogle was mostly attracted to young women in their early and late teens. Fogle also pleaded guilty to traveling to have sex with underage prostitutes.

"He was mostly attracted to females who were teenagers, who were 14 to 17 years of age," Dr. Bradford said. "His attraction was at the high end of that range. He started to view pornography in college [at Indiana University] and had an extensive collection of pornography."

Can diet and weight loss actually cause or contribute to pedophilia?

Dr. Robin Wilson, a clinical psychologist who specializes in working with sex offenders, told ATTN: via email that he isn't familiar with any research that could tie pedophilia to extreme lifestyle changes such as a drastic shift in one's diet.

"I'm not aware of any literature suggesting that extreme lifestyle changes can lead to changes in sexual preferences," Wilson told ATTN:. "Of course, there are many people who have undergone radical weight transitions -- including many in the media or those of celebrity status -- and I don't know of any of them who was later charged with downloading child abuse images or for sexually abusing minors."

Wilson also took issue with Fogle's "mild pedophilia" attribution, calling the description "unheard of in the sexological or psychiatric literature."

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"Frankly, this is a guy who both downloaded child abuse images and sexually abused minors -- that's a lot of activity for a 'mild' attraction that arose from losing a lot of weight," Wilson continued. "Given the current socio-legal climate, there are also very real inhibitors (jail, registries, residency restrictions, etc.) that most 'mildly' or 'weakly' driven individuals would wish to pay attention to, if there were such mildly or weakly attracted people."

Wilson concluded by saying Dr. Bradford's claim looks like a "stretch" and that Fogle should have anticipated the consequences of his actions as a public figure.

"Further, Fogel's celebrity status should have made him more mindful of the different and likely higher standard of conduct to which he would be held," Wilson wrote. "Overall, the argument made by Dr. Bradford is a stretch and not supported by any literature of which I am aware."

In 2013, the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) called pedophilia a “sexual orientation,” causing a stir online and prompting the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to correct the manual definition to "interest."

The APA told the Washington Times in a statement that "'sexual orientation' is not a term used in the diagnostic criteria for pedophilic disorder and its use in the DSM-5 text discussion is an error and should read 'sexual interest.'"

Research suggests that people may be born with pedophilia desires and also that early childhood trauma might force a person to remain in an early stage of development. Because of mandatory reporting rules, they are often less likely to consult with a mental health professional. Men with pedophilia have also been shown to score lower on visual-spatial ability and verbal memory tests. They also tend to have less white matter in the brain and be ambidextrous or left-handed, "a finding that strongly suggests a neurological cause," Margo Kaplan wrote in a New York Times op-ed.