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For the Marine Corps, battling online sexual harassment is nothing new

March 17, 2017 (Photo Credit: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
Lance Cpl. H’s problems began when she logged into Facebook to see she’d received dozens of friend requests from male Marines she didn’t know.

Her inbox quickly filled with messages, many of them sexually explicit. She was told by her friends she’s been '‘made famous" by a Facebook page popular with Marines which posted her personal photos without her consent. It didn’t end there. She was harassed while walking near her base, with people honking and yelling at her as she walked down the street. Lance Cpl. H said her reputation was destroyed and even received threats for standing up for herself online.

Lance Cpl. H's story sounds all too familiar in light of the most recent scandal involving a Facebook page called Marines United, where some members reportedly shared nude photos of female troops and veterans. 

The Military Times reported it back in 2013

Now more than four years have passed since Lance Cpl. H was targeted by her fellow Marines in a wave of sexual harassment and since Rep. Jackie Speier brought a dark undercurrent in Marine Corps culture to public light with  a letter she wrote to then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and then-Marine Commandant, Gen. James Amos.

Gen. Robert Neller, the commandant of the Marine Corps, called the Marines who harassed their colleagues on social media “ embarrassing to our Corps, to our families and to the nation.”

On Tuesday, Neller testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee and addressed female Marines directly: "I know I'm asking a lot of you right now, but I ask you trust the leadership of the Marine Corps to take action and correct this problem. I ask you to trust me personally as your commandant and when I say I'm outraged that many of you haven't been given the same respect when you earn the title Marine," he said.

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand called Neller’s testimony unsatisfactory and called into question actions that have been taken to hold Marines accountable for reports of cyber harassment that date back years.

“I don’t have a good answer for you,” Neller said. “I’m not going to sit here and duck around this thing. I’m not. I’m responsible. I’m the commandant. I own this. And we are going to have to, and I know you’ve heard it before, but we’re going to have to change how we see ourselves and how we do, how we treat each other

Neller addressed subculture that enabled the sexual harassment and exploitation of female Marine. "We all have to commit to getting rid of this perversion of our culture," he said. "We will take action to remove this stain on our Marine Corps."

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