SAN DIEGO – Hundreds of Marines may be involved in a nude photo scandal on a popular Facebook group and the Marine veteran who exposed the misconduct has received death threats, the Marine Corps Times reported Sunday.
"If you have ever sent a naked picture to a Marine he is not the only person that saw that," said one former local Marine Sargent who wanted to remain anonymous. "Every single picture that every single female Marine has sent to another Marine has been passed around... that's it's culture."
Marines United, a private Facebook group initially set up to help service members with post-traumatic stress, is under investigation after pictures of naked service women were posted on the social media page, according to the military news website. The Facebook group has nearly 30,000 members made up of US Marines, veterans and British Royal Marines.
"When you have a database of females that are naked that are Marines, you knew it was coming."
According to identified by their rank, full name and military duty station in photographs posted and linked to from a private Facebook page.
The U.S. Marine Corps acknowledged Sunday that an investigation was underway to find out who posted an undetermined number of naked pictures.
"The Marine Corps is deeply concerned about allegations regarding the derogatory online comments and sharing of salacious photographs in Marines United, a closed website. This behavior destroys morale, erodes trust and degrades the individual. The Marine Corps does not condone this sort of behavior, which undermines its core values."
It was not immediately known which members of the secret Facebook group posted the nude pictures.
Anyone participating in the distribution of the photos may face criminal charges, the USMC posted.
"The Marine Corps takes every allegation of misconduct seriously. Allegations of misconduct are thoroughly investigated and handled at the appropriate judicial or administrative forum. A Marine could potentially be charged for violating Article 133 (for officers) or Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). If a Marine shared a photo of another person that was taken without that person’s consent and under circumstances in which that other person had a reasonable expectation of privacy, the Marine may have violated Article 120c, UCMJ, for broadcasting or distribution of an indecent visual recording. A Marine who directly participates in, encourages, or condones such actions could also be subjected to criminal proceedings or adverse administrative actions."
Military officials offered assistance to any man or woman who is affected by Marines United alleged misconduct. They are advised to call 800-342-9647 or go online.
Thomas Brennan, an Iraq and Afghanistan combat veteran and Purple Heart recipient, first reported on the alleged nude photo scandal on the website he founded – The War Horse. It's a nonprofit news website reporting on military and veteran affairs.
Brennan told the Marine Corps Times he received death threats since posting the article. He also said people have put a bounty on pictures of his daughter while others suggest his "wife should be raped as a result of this."
"As a Marine veteran I stand by the code: honor, courage and commitment," Brennan said. "This story was published with the intention of standing up for what is right and staying true to the leadership principle of looking out for Marines and their families."
Camp Pendleton officials had no additional comment for FOX 5 and pointed to the USMC online statement.