Victims speak out about Marines nude photo sharing - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Victims speak out about Marines nude photo sharing

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(CBS 8/AP) — The military continues to investigate a nude photo scandal that may involve hundreds of Marines and includes thousands of images.  

Wednesday, two of the alleged victims - including one who is stationed at Camp Pendleton - came forward to speak out. 

Erika Butner says someone posted a picture of her on a private Facebook page called Marines United and in the comments section under the picture someone asked for nude photographs.  Butner then opened a Google Drive link posted on the site and couldn't believe what she saw - hundreds of pictures of her fellow female Marines. 

"[The photos were] organized by name, rank, and even where they were stationed," Butner said. "Some of them were naked and information was provided on how these women could be contacted." 

Butner - who left the Marine Corps last year shared her story with reporters at an event organized by attorney Gloria Allred. Also there, was Lance Corporal Marisa Woytek - who is currently stationed at Camp Pendleton.   

Woytek didn't speak - but recently told the New York Times about her pictures:  

They were nothing scandalous, just me saying good morning. But the comments went just as far toward sexual assault and rape and degrading as your imagination can go. I love the Marine Corps. But after seeing that, I wouldn't re-enlist. 

The two victims with Allred hope that by sharing their stories it will convince other victims to speak up. 

The commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps condemned the use of the secret Facebook page and he urged victims to come forward if they have been harassed or abused, including over social media. 

Gen. Robert Neller, in a sharp video message released Tuesday, said Marines should be focused on preparing to fight, "not hiding on social media participating in or being aware of actions that are disrespectful and harmful to other Marines. It's embarrassing to our Corps, to our families and to the nation." 

The nearly four-minute video, distributed on various Marine websites and social media pages, represents the first expansive comments Neller has made about the jarring controversy that has triggered an investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. 

The photos, which have now been taken down, showed women in various stages of undress, and some were identified and others were not. The site was touted as being for men only. 

It's not clear how many active-duty Marines and other service members were involved or are under investigation. A Marine Corps official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss personnel matters by name, said at least one government contractor was removed from his job after he posted a link to the photographs. 

An internal Marine Corps document obtained by The Associated Press said a former Marine maintained the Google Drive where the photos were shared, and that it had a following of about 30,000. Two active-duty female Marines filed complaints about the photos, leading to the NCIS investigation. But it's not known how many more may step forward as victims in the coming days. 

In the video, Neller talks at length about Marine Corps values and the need for service members to treat each other with dignity and respect. 

"It appears that some Marines may have forgotten these fundamental truths and instead have acted selfishly and unprofessionally through their actions on social media," he said. 

In addition to encouraging victims to come forward, Neller said commanders must make sure that all Marines understand the rules governing their conduct, including on social media. And he said that officers must protect victims who come forward from any retaliation, harassment or abuse. 

Neller ended by saying that if "changes need to be made, they will be made." And he warned: "If you can't or are unwilling to commit to contributing 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'?" 

The ongoing investigation is likely to involve a tangled web of legal questions about privacy and online activity -- including who can be held liable or criminally responsible if a photo that was willingly taken is then shared publicly. And there may be questions about the Marines who knew about the site, but never reported it. 

In addition, Marines who made comments on the photos — including threats of violence — could face punishment. 

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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