A nude photo scandal is engulfing the US Marine Corp after images of female recruits were published without consent to a Facebook group with more than 30,000 members.
A nude photo scandal is engulfing the US Marine Corp after images of female recruits were published without consent to a Facebook group with more than 30,000 members. US MARINE CORPS/AARON S. PATTERSON

Nude photo scandal: Sexual harassment saga hits US Marines

THE US Department of Defense is investigation allegations that members of the Marine Corps shared pictures of their colleagues in a private Facebook group without their consent.

The prestigious US military force has been rocked by allegations of a nude photo sharing scandal in which pictures of female servicewomen and details including their age, rank and job were posted to a secret Facebook group, Marines United.

The now deleted group had 30,000 members and was used by current military personnel to post shocking comments on the pictures.

They allegedly include comments saying women, many of whom were photographed without their knowledge, should be taken "out back" to "pound".

Others suggested videoing the acts "for science", according to The Centre for Investigative Journalism's former Marine Thomas Brennan, who exposed the scandal.

One comment from an initial collection of pictures called it "the tip of the iceberg." A government employee who has since been sacked said: "Anyone can contribute. They just have to (private message) me for their own personal upload link."

It's believed hundreds and possibly thousands of pictures were shared, with more than 24 active service members identified since 30 January.

One of those pictured was Marine Lance Corporal Marisa Woytek who said pictures were taken from her Instagram account and uploaded without her consent. She told The Washington Post that comments alluded to sexual assault and rape.

"Even if I could, I'm never re-enlisting," she said. "Being sexually harassed online ruined the Marine Corps for me, and the experience."
 

Marine recruits in San Diego in 2015.
Marine recruits in San Diego in 2015. AP Photo/Gregory Bull

The Marine Corps has said it is "deeply concerned" about the allegations and those responsible could face criminal charges.

"This behaviour destroys morale, erodes trust and degrades the individual. The Marine Corps does not condone this sort of behaviour, which undermines its core values," the force said in a statement.

"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 may have violated 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."

The most senior active serving Marine, Sargent, Major Ronald L Green said "we need to be brutally honest with ourselves and each other".

An internal memo published by the Marine Corps Communications Committee details a plan for how the force would respond to media requests about the story.

"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," it reads.

It also emphasised the "key messages" of "keeping faith" and "victim support", saying that the Marines would review their social media training programs to include online behaviour.

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