On January 10, Gunnery Sgt. Nicolas Russo, who is currently an active-duty Marine assigned to the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training in San Diego, California, participated in an online discussion on Facebook about American R&B artist R. Kelly's marriage to singer Aaliyah, who got pregnant with his child at 15, and later died in an August 2001 plane crash at the age of 22, Task & Purpose reported.
In the online discussion about Aaliyah and her relationship with R. Kelly, Russo allegedly wrote, "Wow… let's place all the blame on a man who is biologically designed to act that way… and not the woman who wanted to do it… And I do believe she was 16." Aaliyah was only 15 years old when she got married to and was impregnated by R. Kelly, who was 27 at the time.
"Quite frankly if she pursues it then let her," Russo also wrote, according to Task & Purpose. "Stop prosecuting adults when this happens. Now if an adult is pursuing then that's a different story."
Sputnik was unsuccessful in accessing Russo's Facebook account or the post on which these comments were made.
"We are currently looking into this matter regarding alleged social media misconduct," Marine Training Command command said in a statement to Task & Purpose. "The Marine Corps takes every allegation of social media misconduct seriously and does not condone any behavior that does not align with our core values. No additional information is available at this time."
The Office of US Marine Corps Communication did not immediately respond to Sputnik's request for comment.
"During our work to combat assault and harassment in the military we are consistently struggling with senior enlisted Marines," former Marine Sgt. Erin Kirk-Cuomo, who is the co-founder of "Not In My Marine Corps," an organization which brings to light stories of sexual assault and harassment among military service members, recently told Task & Purpose.
Earlier this month, a documentary titled "Surviving R. Kelly" aired in the US, featuring new and longstanding allegations that Kelly sexually abuses women and underage girls. The documentary, which also covers the rapper's 2002 indictment on child pornography charges, prompted an investigation into the allegations by Georgia's Fulton County District Attorney's Office
"The R. Kelly documentary has served as an uncovering of many Marines' beliefs towards the victims of assault and harassment: Blaming victims for their own assault," Kirk-Cuomo told Task & Purpose.
"It's frustrating to see this openly in the Corps and from leaders who are responsible to support other Marines who have been assaulted or harassed. It is even more upsetting to see this from a gunnery sergeant who is responsible for the safety and training of young Marines. The Marines engaging in the perpetuation of victim shaming and blaming have no place in our Corps and are not Marines," she added.