Marine commandant urges women in explicit photo scandal to step forward

General Robert Neller vows accountability

ByABC News
March 10, 2017, 7:25 PM

— -- The Marine Corps commandant, Gen. Robert Neller, made an impassioned request to women who may have been victims of the military's nude photo sharing scandal to step forward, vowed that those responsible would be held accountable and lashed out at male Marines who have engaged in cyberbullying.

“I can't fix this," said Neller at a Pentagon press conference on Friday. "I mean, the only -- the way that there's going to be accountability in this, is if somebody comes forward and tells us what happened to them.”

He also came down on former Marines who may have been involved in sharing the photos.

"If you're participating in this type of behavior in any way, shape or form, you're not helping me or your Marine Corps and I'd ask you to reconsider your participation in any sort of behavior like this," he said.

"We claim that being a Marine is a special title and something that you earn," said Neller. "There's honor here. But there is no honor in denigrating a fellow Marine in any way, shape or form.”

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is investigating allegations that current and former Marines shared nude photos of female Marines on a private Facebook site and other internet sites.

"The investigation that's ongoing will help us understand the scope of this and I can assure you if there's accountability to be made, those that are involved will be held accountable," said Neller.

Neller said he did not know how many active duty Marines may have been involved in posting photos to the site and that "less than ten" female victims have been identified.

The other military services are also looking into reports that photos of female service members from all of the services were posted on additional internet sites.

Neller blasted a "sub-culture” of Marines that denigrates women and seems to ignore the sacrifice of female Marines on the battlefield. "We've been fighting for 15 years," said Neller. "You know, men and women, side by side."

He referenced an incident in 2005 where three female Marines were killed by an explosion at a checkpoint in Fallujah.

"I mean how much -- so what do you got to do to get in?" Neller said in a stern tone. "What do you got to do to get in? I mean, come on guys!"

“You know these women do their job. Let them do their job and you do yours and you know what, it’ll all work out. But this is not the way,” said Neller.

“And if you think you’re helping me or the institution, I don’t need your help this way. I do not," he continued. "Got enough problems. I need you to help me in other ways.”

"I need you to be good people, men and women of character and virtue” doing such things as getting high test scores,drinking less alcohol, going to college or by raising their physical test scores.

“That’s what I need you to do," said Neller. "And if we all do that, it’ll be good. It’ll be good. This is not helpful.”

Neller also announced the creation of a task force that would look into the posting of the photos.

"This task force is going to help us understand is what, you know, what can we do, what can't we do," said Neller. "What needs -- potentially needs to be changed so that there can be better accountability, and you know, so that people might realize there are going to be consequences to this type of behavior."