Marines who uploaded and shared nude photos of other females without consent in a secret Facebook group are looking at serving significant jail time if convicted.
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service told the Marine Corps Times that they’re currently investigating the situation and are determining if felony charges are warranted in this case. When asked how many servicemembers are being investigated, spokesman Ed Buice, declined to comment at this time to the MCT, but indicated that the investigation will likely last several weeks and the probe will include veterans, active duty service members, and civilian personnel. Any persons identified outside of NCIS’s jurisdiction will be referred to local law enforcement agencies for adjudication, Buice explained.
Charges to be levied against military personnel involved in the scandal who’ve posted compromising photos without consent are looking at charges of “indecent viewing, visual recording or broadcasting,” an infringement of the UCMJ which carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison, said Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Ryan Alvis.
Women Speak Out
Women affected by the recent leaking of explicit photos by the Facebook group “Marines United” are speaking out about the incident, telling their sides of the story and exposing the ethical issues behind “revenge porn.”
One of the women involved -who goes by the name Kelsie Stone- had reportedly dated a US Marine until 2016 and had sent him explicit photos during the course of her relationship. As an act of revenge, her ex-boyfriend posted the pictures to “Marines United.”
Working as a bartender in a military town, Stone runs into a lot of Marines and feels humiliated knowing that many Marines have seen the photos- and often comment on them, giving her unwanted sexual advances or berating her as a “whore.”
“Some days I don’t want to leave my house. I grew up a Marine brat and this isn’t the Marine Corps image my dad fought to represent,” she said.
US Marine veteran turned-model Ellie Audra said she has reason to believe that some of her photos made it to the secret group, given the harassment she has received from her male counterparts- which can be summed up to something along the lines of “Where were you when I was in? I would’ve f***** you too.”
Audra said that she has even received messages from a man who said he knew when and where she deployed before asking her to have sex with him.
Some Marines have argued that Audra put herself in the public spotlight for nudity long before photos were posted in the private group.
In a statement issued on Facebook, she said: “A few weeks ago I was made aware that there was a private group, Marines United, on Facebook that were circulating photos (the nature of the photos of me that were being circulated is still unknown to me and currently under investigation by NCIS). I wasn’t shocked, I have a large following on Instagram and my professional photos are shared frequently or purchased. However, later the same day I started receiving anonymous vulgar and disturbing messages with personal Marine Corps related information I’ve never disclosed on social media.”
According to the MCT, Audra is hopeful that the recent scandal involving “Marines United” will be the “start to a better and safer Marine Corps.”
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is currently looking into the matter, with at least one US Marine having been discharged as a result of the Facebook group misconduct.
USMC Spokesman Major Christian Devine said that the group’s behavior is unacceptable and underminds the mission of the Marine Corps.
“People who do this to others, regardless of their proclaimed affiliation to military culture, are cowards,” he said. “Their actions are inconsistent with the Marine Corps’ values and team building, and it impedes our collective ability to perform our mission and win.”
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