WASHINGTON (AP) — At least 20 victims have now come forward to complain that explicit photos of them are being shared online by active duty and retired members of the Marine Corps and others, a leading Navy investigator said Friday.
Curtis Evans, the division chief for criminal investigations for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, told reporters that he expects more victims will come forward as the probe continues.
Former and current female Marines say their photographs and those of women in other services have been shared without their consent on social media, including on a private, men-only Facebook page called Marines United and a Google Drive linked to that page. That Facebook page has been taken down, but officials say the photos may have simply migrated to another private site.
Evans said the investigation has expanded into many more sites online. Officials said that earlier this week at least 17 new sites were being reviewed and that as many as 30,000 images were catalogued on the sites, although many were duplicates. A majority of the photos, officials said, were selfies and did not appear to have been taken surreptitiously, although it’s not clear under what conditions they were shared.
The officials weren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
So far, the victims who have come forward are not men, and the investigation has not expanded to gay pornography sites. But, Evans said NCIS will look into every complaint. He said NCIS is working with the other military investigative services and with federal and local law enforcement, including the FBI.
Facebook and Google have been cooperating with the investigation, he added.
There have been about 1,200 screen names identified on the Facebook site, and of those, 725 were active duty Marines, 150 were in the Marine Reserves, 15 were in the active duty Navy and the rest were unidentifiable. Those people were only on the main Facebook page, which involved other issues. It is not known who may have accessed or commented on the Google Drive linked to the Facebook page where the explicit photos were stored.