Hundreds of Marines accused of sharing nude photos of female Marines and veterans have reportedly not stopped their behaviour, despite being under investigation.
More than 30,000 members of the Facebook group Marines United have been redirected to a new page, called Marines United 2 or MU2, with promises that administrators will weed out anyone who might blow the whistle.
Members of the original group page reportedly left taunting messages for federal and military investigators, reports CNN. "It would be hilarious if one of these FBI or (Naval Criminal Investigative Service) f***s found their wife on here," one member wrote on the Marines United page.
Several screenshots of the group's comments and activities were shared with CNN by former Marine Sergeant James LaPorta, a freelance journalist. According to CNN, LaPorta was originally invited to Marines United by another Marine but was later booted for being a reporter.
LaPorta told CNN that men continued to post lewd comments about their victims in the original group and would celebrate each time a new news outlet reported on the group. He also reported speaking to two female Marines who referred to the images and comments as "unreal" and "disgusting". The women said they felt betrayed, he added.
Invasion of privacy
Former Marine Ally Wayne, one of the alleged victims, spoke to ABC News about her distress at the invasion of privacy. "I felt like my privacy had been taken away from me," Wayne said. The former Marine has accused her Marine ex-boyfriend of posting a private sex tape they had made together on the Facebook group.
"Having to go through being harassed for every day of my life for the past year because of a mistake I made four years ago is not anything anyone deserves to go through," she told ABC News. Wayne, who joined the Marines in 2013 and was removed three years later for unrelated misconduct, said the attacks on the group were widespread.
On Tuesday (7 March), the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Robert Neller, encouraged victims to come forward. Wayne said she hopes that as the behaviour becomes public, she and other alleged victims can find justice.
"I just want to get justice," she said. "It's about time the Marines have been shown they have been doing wrong ... I'm glad everyone is ready to stand against it."
A new site called Female Marines United campaign hopes to do just that. Its GoFundMe campaign is hoping to raise money to support female service members by asking supporters to donate $1.
Justine Elena, a captain in the US Marine Corps Reserves, told the Washington Post the fund will "show that there are more people out there who support women in the armed forces and demand respect for all women who have met the standards asked of them in service of their country.
"Women shouldn't have to survive both being deployed to war, being away from your family and loved ones, and then come home and have to also survive the brothers-in-arms that we were told would always look out for us," the 31-year-old added. "That's what's so painful."
The ongoing scandal is being investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Marine Corps confirmed.