Is Jared Fogle's Plea Deal Fair?

Written by Mark O'Mara on . Posted in Opinion

In July, authorities raided Jared Fogle's home and confiscated electronic equipment -- part of a broader investigation into the case of Russell Taylor, who had been executive director of the Jared Foundation, and was arrested for child pornography in May.

At the time, federal authorities made it clear that Fogle was not under investigation. Clearly, that position changed.

According to U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler, Fogle has been involved in a "five-year criminal scheme to exploit children." The famed former Subway pitchman is expected to plead guilty to child pornography charges and crossing state lines to pay for sex with minors. As part of his plea deal, Fogle will likely serve between five and 12½ years in prison.

If you think this sentence range seems light, you would be right, especially when you consider there are people serving life sentences for less egregious drug crimes.

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CNN Op-ed: What Jared Fogle Faces

Written by Mark O'Mara on . Posted in Opinion

cnnJared Fogle, famed pitchman for the Subway restaurant chain, has some problems. On Tuesday, law enforcement investigators confiscated electronics from Fogle's property in Zionsville, Indiana, while helicopters hovered overhead.

The seizure was very likely part of an investigation into the case of Russell Taylor, who had been charged two months ago with breaking federal child pornography laws. At the time of his May 6 arrest, Taylor served as the executive director of The Jared Foundation, Fogle's outreach program.

Fogle is not charged with anything, and federal authorities say he is not under investigation. But if any of the seized devices contain child pornography, and if he had access to it, Fogle may soon face charges as well.

Whatever the meaning of the confiscations from Fogle's property, the incident offers a good teachable moment on child pornography crime.

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Opinion on CNN: Bill Cosby Should Apologize

Written by Mark O'Mara on . Posted in Opinion

cnnThe most devastating word Bill Cosby ever uttered is "yes." When the attorney for one of his accusers asked Cosby whether he had acquired quaaludes (the 1980s version of Rohypnol) to give to women to have sex with them, Cosby answered "yes." Pursuant to a confidentiality agreement, Cosby thought that word would never be heard in public -- but now it has. And it will destroy a legacy built over a remarkable career that has spanned over four decades.

The legacy doesn't belong just to Cosby himself; it belongs to you and to me. His legacy has been adopted by generations who view Dr. Huxtable as a model for good parenting.

In the 1960s, while the nation struggled with integration, Cosby was a black actor who was welcomed into white living rooms on a weekly basis with his humor, success and selfless friendliness. He was someone we could trust. Colorblind, we looked to him as someone who can help us with parenting. He taught our children lessons through Fat Albert and Picture Pages.

Now, instead of Cosby being the father and the grandfather to generations, his legacy lies tattered by the excesses that have become a cliche of the 1970s and 1980s: sex, drugs, and now rape.

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Would a Police Body Camera Have Saved Walter Scott?

Written by Mark O'Mara on . Posted in Opinion

I'm haunted by the video of Officer Michael Slager firing eight shots at Walter Scott as he fled his encounter with North Charleston police -- his back turned to the officer. What I find more disturbing is how the officer cuffs the fallen Scott and allows him to die face-down in the dirt while Slager appears to plant an item next to his body.

Throughout the entire encounter with Scott, it's clear Slager had no idea someone was filming him. Had he known there would be video of his every move, would he have drawn his weapon on a fleeing man? Would he have fired? Eight times? Would he have misrepresented the encounter on his police report?

Of course not. If Slager had been wearing a body camera, Scott would probably still be alive, and Slager wouldn't be facing the possibility of life in prison -- or a possible death sentence.

Body cameras are expensive to deploy, sure. And storing the massive amounts of data that body cameras create costs even more. That cost, however -- if we're talking the monetary kind -- may be eclipsed by the punitive damages delivered to Scott's family in an inevitable civil suit against the North Charleston Police Department. Most importantly, we have to ask ourselves this: What's the value of a human life? Certainly it's worth the price of some mass data storage.