Jared Fogle, former spokesman for Subway, was charged in a federal court with paying for sex with minors and possessing child pornography.
Bill Cosby. Josh Duggar. Dennis Hastert. And now Jared Fogle.
In the past few months, allegations surrounding these men and sexual activity with minors, male and female, have surfaced in headline after headline. In the latest, Indiana’s own Fogle just agreed to plead guilty to charges that include having sex with teenagers and distributing pornography involving children as young as 6 years old.
Fogle’s attorney, Jeremy Margolis, said Wednesday his client would undergo examination by a world-renowned expert in sexual conditions “in order to chart a course to recovery.” His lawyer continued to say that Fogle intends to become healthy again.
Carol Juergensen Sheets, the only certified sexual addictions therapist in the Indianapolis area, says Fogle could have multiple problems, including pedophilia, sexual addiction and obsessive compulsive disorder — a condition she said might have made it easier for him to eat the same meal every day on his Subway diet.
Further, she said the fact that Fogle continued to seek sex with minors even after his colleague in both legal and illegal matters, Russell Taylor, was arrested on child pornography charges suggests that he had lost the ability to control himself.
“The high that he wanted from being with young girls overshadowed his reasoning and his logic,” Sheets said.
Not all pedophiles are sex addicts, and not all sex addicts are pedophiles, experts note.
There also is one significant difference between sexual addiction and pedophilia. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the bible of the American Psychiatric Association, lists pedophilia as a medical diagnosis. Sexual addiction is not listed.
Still, there are numerous places one can turn for help. Clinics to treat sexual addiction exist all across the country. In the Indianapolis area, Sheets said, more than 50 sex addiction support 12-step meetings exist to help those with the condition.
As to why people develop pedophilic or sex addiction tendencies, experts have no one-size-fits-all answer. In some cases, child abusers might have been abused themselves as a child. In others, they might see a sexual image, and it sticks in the brain, Sheets said.
Researchers delving into the personality characteristics of those who engage in online deviate behavior, of which child pornography is one type, know that you can rarely predict offenders.
“There is no one type of person that engages in child pornography, no one profile,” said Kathryn Seigfried-Spellar, an assistant professor in the department of computer and information technology at Purdue University who studies this area. “It’s because the behavior itself is very dynamic and complex.”
Some people will download child pornography but never try to contact a minor for a sexual encounter, she said. Others might network, share information and reach out to children. Now researchers have noted another category — those who contact minors online but have no intention of ever meeting them in person.
Some think that child sex abuse, fueled by the Internet, is on the rise.
One-third of girls will be molested by the time they are 18, as will 1 in 5 boys, said Laura Landgraf, a child sexual abuse activist and author who lives in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Some of the increase might stem from awareness and the fact that people are more likely to be whistleblowers than in previous generations. In addition, forensic interviewers have specialized training on ascertaining how a child has been abused
Others note that the overall rates might not be changing, just our awareness of it.
“Just because there’s a focus on it doesn’t mean that more people are doing it,” Seigfried-Spellar said. “ Child sex abuse has been around since the beginning of time. It’s not like the Internet changed this.”
Identifying those with pedophilic or sex addiction is not always easy, experts agree. Signs can include noticing a person looking at Internet pornography, receiving secret texts or spending money on solo trips. Sheets has an extended survey on her website to help individuals identify whether they might have a sexual addiction problem.
It can be equally challenging to notice that a child has been a victim of an abuser, Landgraf said. For smaller children, nightmares, sexualized play or regressive behaviors can be a clue. Older children might become self-destructive, cutting or using drugs and alcohol. They might go missing for long periods of time and show up with expensive gifts bestowed upon them by their abuser.
Adults who suspect a child is a victim should call local child protective services. If the child confesses to an adult, it’s important to stay calm and steady and tell them it’s not their fault and tell them you love them, Landgraf said. Most of all, don’t question them.
“Believe them,” she said. “False disclosures are really rare.”
Their abusers might never be fully cured, experts say. Although people who do jail time for viewing child pornography have low recidivism rates, the same is not true for those who contact their victims, Seigfried-Spellar said.
In Fogle’s case, he likely will go to a treatment center for at least 30 to 45 days, Sheets said. Then he’ll spend the rest of his life addressing this.
“You cannot be cured of this,” she said. “It is like any other addiction. You can learn how to manage it ... but you have to work on this every day of your life when you have this compulsion.”