'We have some victims here who are in acute need of help,' says prosecutor

By Hilary Shenfeld
Updated October 26, 2015 06:20 PM
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Credit: Michael Conroy/AP

Former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle has paid a total of $1.1 million to 11 of his 14 victims in advance of his sentencing next month on federal charges of child pornography and having sex with minors.

The 11 victims each received $100,000, and the three remaining victims are each due to get the same amount. In total, Fogle is expected to pay $1.4 million before his November 19th court date, at which he has agreed to plead guilty to charges against him, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven DeBrota tells PEOPLE.

Fogle’s 14 victims ranged in age from 10 to 17 when the crimes occurred, and four are now adults, DeBrota says.

The money is intended to go toward victims’ counseling, support, medical treatment and other elements of their ongoing recovery.

“We have some victims here who are in acute need of help,” DeBrota says. “Recovering from human trafficking can be extremely difficult.”

The amount of the restitution requested by prosecutors was determined by a variety of factors, including Fogle’s ability to pay, DeBrota says. Fogle earned money by starring in numerous Subway ads after losing 235 pounds, in part, by hewing to a diet that included Subway sandwiches.

“None of these people are experiencing a windfall, and will be dealing with the after effects of this for the rest of their lives,” DeBrota says.

Restitution Can Be ‘Emotional Affirmation’ for Victims

Authorities also take into account such factors as the amount of losses suffered by the victim, the number of images and their nature, and whether the perpetrator shared them with others, says Cortney Lollar, an assistant professor of law at the University of Kentucky whose expertise is in restitution.

The money “is a tremendous thing for these victims,” Carol Hepburn, a Seattle-based attorney who works on behalf of child pornography victims to get financial restitution, tells PEOPLE, both to help them recover financially as well as emotionally. “The fact that a judge recognized that they’ve been harmed, that’s tremendous emotional affirmation that means a lot,” she says.

Payments to victims before sentencing is rare, DeBrota says, but restitution serves a dual purpose: “Our goal is not just punishment for the offender, but to try to put the victims back where they would have been had none of this happened,” he says.

‘The hope, I think, is to Obtain Lenience in Sentencing’

People who pay restitution early in the process may be trying to show an acceptance of responsibility for their actions, says Brandon Garrett, a law professor at the University of Virginia School of Law. “The hope, I think, is to obtain leniency in sentencing,” he tells PEOPLE.

Lollar agrees. “I suspect the judge will look favorably on paying the restitution up front because it means the victims have received restitution they feel compensates them,” she says.

But she adds, “We don’t know whether that actually will have the desired or anticipated effect.”

The $1.4 total compensation is part of the plea deal that Fogle, 38, agreed in August to accept. He is expected to be sentenced to between 5 and 12-and-a-half years in prison.

Fogle’s attorney, Jeremy Margolis, declined on Monday to comment to PEOPLE on the restitution. However, he said in an earlier statement that, “While Jared fully recognizes that such monetary contribution will not undo the harm he has caused, he is hopeful it will assist these individuals as they try to move forward with their lives.”

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