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Suspect in Marines Nude Photo Sharing Scandal Facing Court-Martial

© Sputnik / David B. GleasonPentagon
Pentagon - Sputnik International
One service member could face a court-martial and another has been administratively discharged in connection with the military branch’s nude-photo-sharing scandal that broke out in March.

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., questioned Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing about the latest updates on the scandal surrounding the 30,000-member private Facebook group "Marines United."

On March 4, a Marine veteran reported that troops and vets were using the group to share explicit photos of females, including fellow service members, veterans and civilians. There were reports that at one point in the group's history, a Marine allegedly livestreamed sexual intercourse with a victim directly onto Marines United.

Elle Audra, a tattoo model and former Marines Cpl. who was subject to sexual harassment while in the service, wrote in a Facebook post that the group's apparent goal was to degrade and humiliate female troops and that it perfectly displayed the Marines' "slut shaming and rape culture mentality."

"The fact that it has always been common practice and women are scared to speak out about sexual harassment, sexual assault or domestic violence is the issue," she wrote.

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Neller told lawmakers on Thursday that investigators have identified 65 suspects in the scandal and that 59 were referred to their commands for possible disciplinary or administrative action. Of the 59 individuals, seven have received non-judicial punishment, 20 have received "adverse administrative actions," and one Marine has been administratively separated from the service+.

One individual also faces an Article 32 hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to warrant a court-martial.

Gillibrand claimed that non-judicial punishment for those found responsible for the online misconduct wasn't enough.

"You know which photos are posted; you know where they came from; there are evidentiary trails to be made," Gillibrand said.

"So I wouldn't say that it's likely that these are cases where they couldn't prove their case. I think it sends the wrong message. If you're not taking these crimes seriously as an enormous disruption of good order and discipline, I fear that it's not going to change behavior."

Neller said he understood the concerns and that the investigations were not over.

In the wake of the scandal, House lawmakers in May overwhelmingly passed a bill that would create a new military law making it illegal to share nude photos within the military without first getting consent from the person pictured.

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