A number of US marines are being investigated for posting nude and semi-naked photos of their female colleagues on Facebook.
The pictures were allegedly shared alongside aggressive sexual messages in a Facebook group called Marines United, which has 30,000 members.
One of the group’s members shared a link to an online folder containing the photos, which included the women’s names and ranks, the BBC reported.
The US defence department is now investigating the reports and the online group has since been closed down. The Naval Criminal Investigation Service has launched their own investigation.
Non-profit news organisation The War Horse, run by ex-Marine Thomas Brennan, exposed the scandal.
Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Ronald Green, called it a “direct attack on our ethos and legacy”.
He added: “This behaviour hurts fellow marines, family members, and civilians.”
One marine, Lance Corporal Marisa Woytek, told The Washington Post she has since quit the corps. She believes the photos were taken from her Instagram account.
Capt Ryan E Alvis, a spokesman for the Marine Corps, said: “We are thankful that Thomas Brennan, a Marine veteran, notified the Marine Corps and NCIS about what he witnessed on the Marines United page. It allowed us to take immediate action to have the explicit photos taken down and to prepare to support potential victims."