Top Marine: Troops accused of sharing nude photos acted 'selfishly and unprofessionally'

The country’s top Marine issued a video statement Tuesday saying that the Marines accused of sharing nude photos of female service members “acted selfishly and unprofessionally,” his first public comments on the issue since the scandal began over the weekend.

“Let me cut to the chase. When I hear allegations of Marines denigrating their fellow Marines, I don’t think such behavior is that of true warriors or warfighters,” Gen. Robert Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps, said in the nearly four-minute video.

On Saturday, nonprofit military news organization The War Horse first reported that the Naval Criminal Investigative Service was investigating hundreds of Marines after allegations they shared nude photos and personal information of female Marines and veterans on a private Facebook page.

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Some of the photos were allegedly taken without the women’s knowledge or were taken by the women but meant to remain private. Comments on the Facebook page were reported to be degrading and included rape threats.

Since the War Horse broke the news, the original reporter, himself a veteran, has reportedly been threatened and female Marines have detailed online harassment that goes far beyond the one Facebook page.

In his Tuesday video, Neller said the majority of Marines are taking their job seriously.

But, he said, Marines need to focus on becoming better warfighters, not “hiding on social media participating in or being aware of actions that are disrespectful or harmful to other Marines.”

“It’s embarrassing to our Corps, to our families and to the nation,” he continued.

Neller encouraged those who believe they are victims of online harassment to report it to their chain of command, chaplain or victim legal counsel.

“We will ensure that the investigative process that is ongoing will ensure the reporting of conduct that is like this,” he added. “If changes need to be made, they will be made.”

He also reminded Marines they are expected to act like Marines all day, every day.

“If that commitment to excellence interferes with your ‘me time,’ or if you can’t or are unwilling to contribute 100 percent to our Corps’ warfighting ability by being a good teammate and improving cohesion and trust, then I have to ask you, do you really want to be a Marine?” Neller said.

He pledged the Marine Corps would get through the scandal.

“We will get through this if we are all in it together, treating your fellow Marines with the respect their deserve,” he said.