A Facebook group called Marines United, or “MU” to those who subscribe to the group, has been exposed for sharing thousands of images of nude photos of fellow female peers, many of which taken or shared without their knowledge. The findings were first uncovered by The War Horse, a nonprofit news organization run by Marine veteran Thomas Brennan, and first reported by Reveal News.
The news garnered a quick response by top Marine Corps Officials who subsequently disseminated letters of guidance to various commands and installations on how to deal with online sexual assault. The Department of Defense has launched an official investigation into hundreds of Marines involved in the scandal.
The Facebook group has nearly 30,000 members, many of which are still active duty military, and has tight rules regulating membership. No females are allowed, and only Marines, Fleet Navy Corpsman, and British Royal Marines are granted entrance to what one former Marine told American Military News is essentially “an underground porn ring of female Marines.”
Group members began sharing pictures of women less than a month after the first Marine infantry unit was assigned women. The service provided a 10-page PDF in response, that Reveal News reports “lists resources for victims, including a website to report crimes, and provides talking points for other media and members of Congress – who, it suggested, will want answers. It also outlines another possible blow to come: inappropriate responses from Marines.”
Some members of the group posted comments about their desire to sexually assault the female Marines whose pictures were being shared. According to Reveal News, one commenter stated that the person taking and posting pictures of one woman infantry member should “take her out back and pound her out.”
Reveal News also reported that another group member described graphic details of how someone should assault the woman through more than just vaginal sex.
“And butthole. And throat. And ears. Both of them. Video it though … for science,” the comment read.
In addition to the images shared on the page, the group also had access to a Google Drive account which sported thousands of images of nude women which were somehow obtained by the group though the pictures were intended to be sent privately. The images were compiled in a database that categorized the victims by name, rank, and branch of service. In some cases, they featured totally innocuous photos taken by apparent stalkers as the women in the database walked around base.
One active duty Marine who had images leaked online voiced her frustration at the idea that it was her fault for taking them in the first place.
“We are all sexual people, unless you’re asexual,” the woman told American Military News. “A lot of people take pictures to send to their partners and don’t intend for those photos to ever be seen by anyone else. That’s why there are laws regarding revenge porn in the first place.”
Another female, speaking on a condition of anonymity, said that the Commandant and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps had taken a vested interest in bringing those active duty members who were culpable for sharing images on the Facebook page to justice.
“They will be speaking with victims of the page this week to discuss it further,” the second woman told American Military News.
Rep. Mac Thornberry, the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee released a statement on the matter, calling the treatment of these women “troubling” and called for an investigation.
“Revelations of this sort of treatment against fellow Marines are troubling,” Thornberry said in the statement. “Degrading behavior of this kind is entirely unacceptable. They and the nation deserve better. I expect the Marine Corps to investigate this matter fully with appropriate consequences for those who willingly participated.”
Editor’s Note: This piece has been edited to reflect American Military News’ current editorial standards.