INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Dec. 10, 2015) — Russell Taylor, former head of Jared Fogle’s Jared Foundation, was sentenced to 27 years in prison plus lifetime supervised release Thursday.
Judge Tanya Walton Pratt said his cooperation in the Jared Fogle case kept him from serving more time. Federal prosecutors had asked for Taylor to serve 35 years. He pleaded guilty to 12 counts of producing child pornography and a count of distributing child pornography.
Defense attorneys tried to paint a picture of Taylor as manipulated by his former boss and former friend Jared Fogle.
During the sentencing hearing, the defense called Dr. Robin Kohli to the stand as a witness. Kohli examined Taylor on November 9 and conducted several tests to determine whether he was a pedophile and to determine his risk for reoffending.
Kohli says Taylor told her he is not sexually attracted to children, and the only reason he produced child porn was so he could give it to Fogle. He told her that he was afraid of losing his house and his job if he didn’t give Fogle the porn.
Kohli diagnosed Taylor with dependent personality disorder, meaning he seeks out dependent relationships where someone can control him. She says this is evident by the fact that Fogle asked Taylor to call him “Daddy.”
Kohli went as far to say that Taylor showed symptoms of “Stockholm Syndrome.” That’s because Taylor was still worried about Fogle and didn’t want anything to happen to him up until his sentencing. Kohli described it as very strange.
Kohli concluded that Taylor shows a very low risk of reoffending. “I think he could definitely be a safe, contributing member of society,” said Kohli.
However, in the cross-examination, the prosecutor told Kohli there were several holes in her report. Kohli said that Taylor didn’t show an interest in children, but she never conducted a lie detector test to determine that. The prosecutor said that finding was only based on Taylor’s word. Additionally, he said that she didn’t take into account the fact that Taylor produced some child porn that was never shared with Fogle. The prosecutor went as far to say that she never asked for certain court documents with more information and her findings were “completely invalid.”
Of the 12 victims, prosecutors said Taylor produced and passed material of eight of them to Jared Fogle. But video and images of four Taylor kept and did not share.
“He did crimes by himself that did not involve Mr. Fogle,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven DeBrota, in an interview after the sentencing, “With regard to four of the 12 victims, the child porn was produced by Mr. Taylor and never given to Mr. Fogle. He never got it.”
Perhaps more troubling, in court it was revealed that at least six of the victims were relatives of Taylor, a point Judge Tanya Walton Pratt specifically referred to in her comments.
“What is particularly disturbing is that he preyed on those entrusted to his care,” she said.
Judge Pratt said Taylor and Fogle “knew right from wrong” and “shared a mutual perversion” during the sentencing hearing. Taylor cried throughout Thursday’s proceedings as he attempted to explain his actions.
“I thought my acts would stay hidden,” he said. “But I was wrong. I’ve shamed my family and friends.”
Taylor said he’s “fallen asleep in a pool of tears” every night since April and that the judge would never find “someone more remorseful” than he is. He told the court he’d gotten away from God and repented his sins. And the Lord has forgiven him.
“It’s my return to the Lord that that led me to plead guilty and take responsibility for my actions,” he said. “I would like to use my notoriety for the good and bring attention to child sex abuse.”
Taylor went on to say that the amount of hurt in his heart would be no more if he spent one day in prison or 10,000 days in prison. Ironically, 10,000 days is just a little over the equivalent of 27 years.
“In the past seven months I’ve been called so many names. But mainly, I’m just a guy who was so lonely for so long. And then I met someone who was famous and rich, and he wanted to be my friend,” said Taylor.
“He made a legitimate suicide attempt. He nearly died. In terms of his despair, I don’t think there’s any doubt it caused him great despair,” said Taylor’s attorney Brad Banks, “I think the judge appropriately balanced all the factors as the statute required… She was very reasonable and well thought, a very fair sentence.”
Members of Taylor’s family cried as he spoke, and they waved as he was taken away from the courtroom.
Family members declined to speak on camera with Fox59 after the sentencing.
Taylor’s attorneys have requested that he be sent to FCI Marianna in Florida. Taylor’s father lives in Florida, and would visit him if he was sent there.
Fogle, the ex-Subway spokesman, was sentenced to more than 15 years last month in a case that drew national attention.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office says the investigation is still open.
In court, we learned Russell Taylor sent images of one victim to two additional people, not counting Jared Fogle. At least one of whom was said to be a board member of the Jared Foundation.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office would not comment further when asked about that, other than to say the investigation remains active.