WASHINGTON — House Armed Services Committee leaders are calling for a full investigation and appropriate punishment amid reports of potentially hundreds of Marines distributing nude photos of their female colleagues.
Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Clark Carpenter told the Marine Corps Times over the weekend that the Naval Criminal Investigative Service is investigating the matter.
“The success of every Marine, every team, every unit and command throughout our Corps is based on mutual trust and respect,” Commandant Robert Neller told the paper in a statement. “I expect every Marine to demonstrate the highest integrity and loyalty to fellow Marines at all times, on duty, off-duty and online.”
According to the Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal News, since Jan. 30 nude photos of more than two dozen active duty and veteran women, including officers and enlisted, have been distributed on a private Facebook page and via Google Drive by their full name, rank and station.
“In one instance, a female corporal in uniform was followed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, by a fellow Marine, who surreptitiously photographed her as she picked up her gear. Those photographs were posted on the Facebook group Marines United, which has nearly 30,000 followers, drawing dozens of obscene comments,” said the CIR report. “…The photo sharing began less than a month after the first Marine infantry unit was assigned women Jan. 5.”
Marine Corps officials said the Marine who took the Camp Lejeune photos has been discharged from active duty.
“More than 2,500 comments about the photos were left by group members, many of whom used their personal Facebook accounts that include their names, ranks and duty stations. Some invited others to collect, identify and share photos of naked or scantily clad servicewomen,” the report continued. “…Dozens of now-deleted Google Drive folders linked from the Facebook page included dossiers of women containing their names, military branches, nude photographs, screenshots of their social media accounts and images of sexual acts.”
An internal Marine Corps memo on how to deal with the scandal noted that “the story will likely spark shares and discussions across social media, offering venues for Marines and former Marines who may victim blame, i.e., ‘they shouldn’t have taken the photos in the first place,’ or bemoan that they believe the Corps is becoming soft or politically correct.”
“We expect Marines to speak up and speak out when it comes to any behavior that seeks to demean or degrade others. Don’t let silence be consent,” the memo notes, adding that Marines involved in explicit photo sharing could be in violation of Article 133 (for officers) or Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. “If a Marine shared a photo of another person that was taken without that person’s consent and under circumstances in which that other person had a reasonable expectation of privacy, the Marine could potentially be charged with a violation of Article 120c, UCMJ, for broadcasting or distribution of an indecent visual recording. A Marine who directly participates in, encourages, or condones such actions could also be subjected to criminal proceedings or adverse administrative actions.”
Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) called the behavior by Marines and former Marines “degrading, dangerous, and completely unacceptable.”
“I expect that the Marine Corps Commandant, General Neller, will use his resources to fully investigate these acts and bring to justice any individuals who have broken the law and violated the rights of other service members,” Smith said. “He must also ensure that the victims are taken care of. The military men and women who proudly volunteer to serve their country should not have to deal with this kind of reprehensible conduct.”
Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said in a statement that “revelations of this sort of treatment against fellow Marines are troubling.”
“Degrading behavior of this kind is entirely unacceptable. They and the nation deserve better,” he said. “I expect the Marine Corps to investigate this matter fully with appropriate consequences for those who willingly participated.”