In February, news broke that a Facebook group, calling itself “Marines United”, was outed for being a place where servicemen were sharing photos of female service members, either in the nude or in compromising positions, without the women’s consent and, very likely, without their prior knowledge. If this wasn’t bad enough, these posts often contained identifying information about the women, including name, ranks and where they were stationed. Even after this group was disbanded, other Facebook groups and websites continued to share these photos, which ultimately reached a number in excess of 150,000.
This scandal became so white-hot that, by April, The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) announced that it had identified 15 service members they believed to have committed felonies related to their participation in this scandal. They also identified another 29 service members would be facing disciplinary actions.
In the nearly 3 months since this announcement, the number facing punishment has only grown. To date, NCIS has identified 22 civilians and 67 service members (active duty and reserved) were recommended to receive some sort of discpline. So, this has resulted in two administrative separations, seven non-judicial punishments, and 22 adverse administrative actions. However, the most severe punishment seen has been the first court martial of a Marine related to this scandal:
On June 29, a Marine plead guilty at a summary-court martial related to the nonconsensual sharing of explicit photos on the Marines United Facebook group. The Marine was sentenced to 10 days confinement, reduction of rank by three grades, and a forfeiture of two-thirds of one month’s pay. Additionally, the process to administratively separate the Marine is underway.
“Administrative separation” from the Marines is similar to the civilian process of firing someone from a job, albeit with a more strenuous process. At this point, there have been no criminal charges. So, we’ll keep an eye on this to see how it unfolds.