WASHINGTON (WVEC) -- The United States Marine Corps addressed allegations that Marines shared nude photos of female service members and other women on social media and promoted sexual violence.
The allegations involve a closed Facebook group called Marines United. That group is supposed to have roughly 30,000 members.
Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting published a story about the alleged misconduct on March 4 saying that the nonprofit news organization The War Horse uncovered the problem.
Marine veteran Thomas Brennan runs The War Horse. Reveal reported that Brennan contacted the Marine Corps headquarters in January and that within a day, Facebook and Google deleted accounts connected to the alleged photo and comment sharing.
In a story on March 5, The Marine Corps Times said that a Marine Corps spokesman at the Pentagon confirmed that an investigation is underway and that military officials were not sure how many personnel may be involved. Major Clark Carpenter referred additional questions to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
The Marine Corps Times also obtained a 10-page document that Marine Corps officials circulated. The document outlines the allegations and lists talking points about the investigation.
We are aware of the reports of misconduct on social media. Marines will not tolerate online or offline harassment. https://t.co/Cl2zoEkZsM— U.S. Marines (@USMC) March 5, 2017
The Marine Corps posted a news release on its website March 5. It said, in part:
The Marine Corps is deeply concerned about allegations regarding the derogatory online comments and sharing of salacious photographs in Marines United, a closed website. This behavior destroys morale, erodes trust and degrades the individual. The Marine Corps does not condone this sort of behavior, which undermines its core values. As General Neller said in his recent Message to the Force, the Marine Corps’ success in battle depends on trust, mutual respect and teamwork.
The release went on to say that the branch takes allegations of misconduct seriously and that those allegations are investigated thoroughly and "handled at the appropriate judicial or administrative forum."
Every Marine should give their all to be the best human beings & teammates possible. Respect & trust w/fellow Marines = key to our success— Robert B. Neller (@GenRobertNeller) March 5, 2017
Congressman A. Scott McEachin (VA-4) provided 13News Now with a statement about the accusations facing the Marine Corps:
I am extremely disappointed to hear about reports of active members and veterans of the Marine Corps sharing nude photos of their female fellow service members. Persons who have dedicated their lives in service of our country should not be victims of this heinous action, especially by their fellow service members. There must be zero tolerance for sexual harassment in the armed services.
I applaud the individual who brought this information forward. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am calling for a full investigation and a promise that victims receive the resources they need. I trust that the Marine Corps Commandant, General Neller, will right this wrong and will make it clear that all service members must be treated with respect and that harassment will not be tolerated.
A spokeswoman for Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-2) said that Scott did not have an official comment Sunday night because he still was being briefed on the allegations and investigation.
© 2017 WVEC-TV