Former Marine Erika Butner, right, stands with attorney Gloria Allred holding photos of Butner.

Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock

The revenge porn scandal rocking the Marines has been condemned by the upper echelons of the military. 

Two of the most powerful people in uniform denounced a Marine-led Facebook group that shared a Google Drive filled with nude photos of female marines and other women. The photos were uploaded without the women’s consent.

“These allegations undermine everything we stand for as Marines,” Gen. Robert Neller said at a news conference Friday. “If you’re participating in any kind of behavior like this, you’re not helping me or the Marine Corps.”

Neller also spoke out on Wednesday, saying Marines “acted selfishly and unprofessionally through their actions on social media” and called the scandal “embarrassing” and “disrespectful” to other Marines.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis also issued a statement Friday saying the spread of the nude photos are “egregious violations of the fundamental values we uphold at the Department of Defense.” He added that the Defense Department is investigating. 

The scandal began when an all-male Facebook group known as Marines United posted the photos online. The images spread from there, even making their way to Pornhub and other Facebook groups. More than 24 women featured in the photos have been doxed since Jan. 30, according to the initial news report of the scandal. Many of those women are active-duty marines. Marines United had around 30,000 members when the nude photos were first reported. That number reportedly tanked with the revelations, but the photos keep circling the web. 

Facebook has reportedly since erased accounts associated with sharing the nude photos. 

Journalist Thomas Brennan, who first reported the story earlier this month, has been sent death threats since publication, but Neller came to his defense. 

The military has a long history of sexual assault and sexual harassment scandals that bubble to the surface, make headlines and then disappear, just in time for another scandal to arise and make it appear as though nothing has been changed. It’s only been two months since women were first allowed to be part of a Marine infantry unit on Jan. 5.

More than 6,000 cases of sexual assault in the military were reported in 2015, the latest year for which such information is available. And that number represents just a fraction of the sexual assaults that take place. Just 40 percent of women and 10 percent of men report being assaulted. That’s partly because, as shown by a 2015 Human Rights Watch report, military personnel who report their assaults are 12 times more likely to face retaliation than to witness their attackers “convicted of a sex offense.”



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