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Court-martial possible in Marines nude photo sharing scandal

Court-martial possible in Marines nude photo sharing scandal

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller on Thursday said one service member could face a court-martial and another has been discharged following the military branch’s nude-photo-sharing scandal reveal in March.

Neller told Senate Armed Services Committee lawmakers that 65 individuals were identified in the scandal — in which service members allegedly shared nude photos of female Marines and veterans in the private Facebook group “Marines United,” — and that 59 were sent to their commands for possible disciplinary or administrative action.

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Of the 59 individuals, seven have received non-judicial punishment, 20 have received “adverse administrative actions,” and one Marine has been administratively separated.

The service is also planning an Article 32 hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to warrant a court-martial on one suspect, but Neller did not say if it was a Marine.

“I've gone personally, as all of my leaders have gone, and spoken to literally tens of thousands of Marines and made them understand what their responsibilities are and I think more importantly . . . the social media things that we've seen have been — were just indicative of a problem within our culture that we did not properly respect or value the contributions of women in our Corps and that's the problem we have to fix,” he said.

Neller was responding to a question from Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandAustin tight lipped on whether to take sexual assault cases out of commanders' hands Gillibrand touts legislation to lower drug costs: This idea 'is deeply bipartisan' A bipartisan effort to prevent the scourge of sexual assault in the armed forces MORE (D-N.Y.) who asked for an update on the scandal and was critical of the Marines’ punishment of those found responsible for the 30,000-member Facebook group.

“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, in turn, stressed that he understands the concerns and said that the investigations are ongoing.

“We're still in the process, this is not over and we'll see what happens,” he said. “I understand your concern and I'll get back to you as we further progress in this process.”

Since the scandal broke, both the Senate and House have backed legislation that makes sharing nude photos within the military a crime.

Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillDemings asked about Senate run after sparring with Jordan on police funding Republicans fret over divisive candidates Greitens Senate bid creates headache for GOP MORE (D-Mo.) along with Republican Sens. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (Nev.) and Joni Ernst (Iowa), are leading the Senate push for the Protecting the Rights of Individuals Against Technological Exploitation (PRIVATE) Act, which would amend the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) to make the non-consensual sharing of intimate photos a punishable offense.

The House passed the bill, introduced by Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), in May by a vote of 418-0.