Family of former Jared Foundation director Russell Taylor speaks out

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind (Sep. 17, 2015)-- Russell Taylor's sister spoke publicly for the first time since the former head of the Jared Foundation agreed to plead guilty to child pornography and exploitation charges. FOX59 sat down exclusively with Melissa Taylor, who said she is speaking on behalf of her family.

While the investigation and arrest of Taylor has been difficult for the family, they recognize that Russell made mistakes and they acknowledge that he should pay a consequence. However, they stand behind him.

Russell Taylor (right) (Photo courtesy of the Taylor family).

Russell Taylor (right) and his mother Ella Chestnut (left) (Photo courtesy of the Taylor family).

"He's intelligent, he's loving, he's a good dad, a good brother, a good son. That's my brother and I love him. I'm not ashamed to be his sister," said Melissa.

Taylor is the only boy and the youngest of three siblings.

"He's not this monster that everyone makes him out to be. He knows what he did was wrong. He understands that and he's sorry for it," she said.

Taylor will plead guilty to charges of producing child pornography in his own home, using hidden cameras. He's accused of filming unsuspecting minors and then sending those images to his former boss and Subway spokesman Jared Fogle. More than 400 videos were found on computers and storage devices in his home. Four victims between the ages of 9 and 16 are in the videos, according to investigators.

"He sent some stuff to Jared, that's what he did and yes that was wrong. Yes, he needs to serve his time for that but I don't think he needs to serve his whole life for that," said Melissa.

In November, Fogle will plead guilty to paying for sex with minors and child porn charges—facing anywhere from 5-12 years behind bars. Taylor could serve anywhere from 15-35 years.

Fogle awaits sentencing while living at his parents' home as Taylor sits in federal custody. Melissa says her family feels that the current conditions and potential sentences don't add up for them.

"Nobody was touched. No one in any of those videos was ever molested. I don't agree with the time. Jared did touch children, he did do those things. And I’m not saying what Russ did was no less wrong because it was wrong. It makes you think that you have to have millions of dollars to get any kind of plea," said Melissa.

Federal agents searched Taylor's home in April after receiving a tip from friend of Taylor.

"He asked if I wanted to see any pictures of young girls. I wasn't expecting him to offer child pornography but he opened up a completely different avenue. I was confident that he did have some criminal activity as far as the bestiality picture he sent me," said the anonymous whistle blower.

Court documents show text conversations between Taylor and the woman. They discussed everything from child porn to bestiality.

"They were close and they joked and this whole bestiality thing, what that is from is because she had horses and they were just texting each other," said Melissa.

In the days following Taylor's arrest, the Marion County Jail reported that Taylor attempted to commit suicide. Melissa says her brother has no recollection of trying to take his own life. The Taylor family questions the events that transpired.

Jared Fogle (left) with Russell Taylor (right)

Jared Fogle (left) with Russell Taylor (right)

"He doesn't really remember so we just don't know. We don't want to accuse someone of doing something if he did it. I just don't know," she said.

Despite the questions, Melissa recently got a semicolon tattoo on her forearm. She says it is in support of suicide awareness.

She says her brother understands what he did was wrong, but at the time he did not understand the gravity of his actions.

"In his mind he's thinking that he's helping a peeping tom [Fogle] look through the window. He thought nobody is being touched and nobody is being molested. But it still wasn't ok," said Melissa.

Melissa and her family say they are hopeful that Russell will finally get the help he’s never received.

"Russ was molested as a child and he never told anyone when he was little. They both did it, they both did wrong and we want Jared to get the same help that Russell needs to get," said Melissa.

Taylor will be sentenced on December 10. As part of the plea deal, Taylor agreed not to ask for a sentence of less than 15 years. Federal prosecutors will request a maximum sentence of 35 years.