When Kelsie Stone broke up with her Marine boyfriend in 2016, she thought he was out of her life for good. Then one of her friends sent her screenshots of photos of her without her clothes on that her ex had allegedly posted on the Facebook page "Marines United," she said.
Stone, a civilian who works as a bartender in a town with a lot of Marines, now says she is scared to be in public because people come up to her to talk about the revealing pictures, which she sent to her boyfriend privately while they were dating, she said.
"Some of the comments have them mentioning how they liked what they saw, how could they get some of that or whatever," Stone told Marine Corps Times. "I've been called a whore for even sending pictures like that in the first place."
She's also heard that her ex-boyfriend is getting praise for what he has done. "Because apparently posting pictures of a woman on social media is brownie points for a lot of Marines these days," she said.
Another woman, Elle Audra, who left the Marine Corps as a corporal in 2010, believes that nude pictures of her were also posted on the Marines United Facebook page because she has been getting harassing messages from people via social media.
Elle Audra and her daughter Desiree in 2008.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Elle Audra.
"The messages are usually something around like: 'Where were you when I was in? I would've f****d you too,'" Audra told Marine Corps Times.
One of the scariest messages came from a man who knew when and where she had deployed and who asked if she would have sex with him, she said.
Audra said she hopes some good can come out of the emerging scandal that is drawing attention from law enforcement investigators and Capitol Hill.
"I advocate for survivors of sexual assault and I'm beyond relieved that someone finally told the truth about what actually happens to most female Marines," Audra said. "I believe this is a start to a better and safer Marine Corps."
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service has launched an investigation into an unspecified number of Marines who shared nude pictures of female service members, veterans and others on the Facebook page.
NCIS is encouraging victims, both service members and civilians, to contact NCIS online.
Marines who believe they are victims of a crime and want to maintain their privacy can reach out to chaplains or a victim legal counsel, said Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Ryan Alvis.
Marines can also contact their chain of command or local law enforcement, Marine officials said.
Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Christian Devine was one of many Marine officials who denounced the online behavior.
"People who do this to others, regardless of their proclaimed affiliation to military culture, are cowards. Their actions are inconsistent with the Marine Corps' values and team building, and it impedes our collective ability to perform our mission and win."
Stone’s mother said that her daughter has been devastated by the fallout from having her pictures shared on Facebook because she had just begun to recover from her best friend’s suicide.
"Kelsie is a good-hearted girl, probably a little too trusting for her own good," said her mother, Petra McGinnis. "It's hard as a parent to listen to your child cry because of the actions of another. This was a direct blow to her trust level, not to mention that she feels that she is going to fall through the cracks, that she doesn't really matter."
Stone said she has little doubt that what her ex-boyfriend did rises to the level of sexual violence. She is considering moving so she can get a fresh start and "not be haunted by this."
"Some days I don't want to leave my house," Stone said. "Some days I'm hesitant to even go into the gas station. My dad is a retired gunnery sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, so I grew up thinking the Marines were it — that there was no better for honor and integrity. I grew up a Marine brat and this isn't the Marine Corps image my dad fought to represent."