The U.S. Marine Corps says it is examining allegations from a now-viral TikTok video of a Marine in tears, who said a commanding general kept the man who assaulted her in uniform, even after she said he admitted his crime.
"This is exactly why fucking females in the military fucking kill themselves," the woman said through tears in the video posted first to TikTok Thursday and later circulated across social media platforms through Friday. "This is exactly why. Nobody fucking takes it seriously."
"The Marine Corps is aware of the video and is gather all the details of the situation," Capt. Casey Littesy, a Marine Corps spokeswoman, told Connecting Vets Friday morning. "Sexual assault is a crime, is unacceptable and violates our core values of honor, courage and commitment."
The Corps then referred further questions about the allegations to II Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
The Marine who posted the video did not immediately respond to requests for comment and Connecting Vets is not naming her. She did not name the alleged perpretrator and Marine officials did not identify any parties involved, including the general facing allegations.
Marine officials said the alleged perpetrator's separation process is ongoing and the Marine in the video is being contacted.
"The current administrative separation process for the accused perpetrator mentioned in the video is ongoing," the II Marine Expeditionary Force said in a news release Friday afternoon. "The Marine in the video is safe and has been afforded the opportunity to meet with senior representatives in her command."
In her Thursday video and in others, the Marine said she faced the man who harassed her in court, adding that he was expected to receive an honorable discharge from the Corps. An honorable discharge means the Marine is likely to keep his benefits, and will have the opportunity to join other service branches. But minutes before posting her video, she said she heard that the man would remain a Marine.
"This morning I posted a ... TikTok about how fucking unfair it is that I've dedicated my life to the military and the Marine Corps and everything that I've done and that I was able to see my ... perpetrator in court and how much it sucked that he ... would be getting an honorable discharge," she said in the video. "Well, not even ... 10 minutes ago, I just got word that (he) will be getting retained ... All the way up, across the board, everybody said they would not retain him ... and the fucking (commanding general) with all of the proof and a fucking admission to guilt decided that they will retain him."
When Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was asked about the video during his first ever Pentagon press briefing on Friday, he had seen it and found it "deeply disturbing."
"I found the video deeply disturbing and I've asked my staff for additional information," Austin told reporters, later adding, "I'm going to ask that her chain of command make sure that someone is looking out after her needs and make sure we are taking care of her."
On sexual assault and harassment in the military, Austin said the Defense Department and individual service branches have been "working at this for a long time, in earnest.
"But we haven't gotten it right," he said. "We're going to do everything in our power to get it right."
Military officials have said for years they have a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment and assault, but survivors have continued to face injustices or, at best, slip through the cracks themselves. In January, Austin ordered military leaders to provide reports on what actionable steps they are taking to prevent sexual harassment and assault and how they know those efforts are effective. Those reports were due to the Defense secretary Feb. 5, but have so far not been made public.
"They just didn't take care of me the way they promised that they would," the woman Marine said of the Corps in another TikTok video on Thursday.
The Marine had other TikTok videos garner millions of views last year when she shared about testifying against the man who she says harmed her in court. Since then, she has posted other videos advocating for military sexual trauma awareness and prevention, and founded a website for other survivors to share their stories.
"My story is the story of hundreds and I think it's time we talk about it," she wrote on her website.
Marine officials said Friday the Corps takes "all allegations of prohibited conduct and activities seriously to ensure our people are fully supported with appropriate resources specific to the nature of the incident" and is "committed to maintaining a culture of dignity, respect, fairness and trust in which all members of the organization are afforded equal treatment and opportunity to achieve their full potential based solely upon individual merit, fitness, intellect, and ability."
The Corps did not provide further comment on the specific allegations in the video, or in other social media posts and videos from the same Marine.
If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual harassment or assault, call the National Sexual Assault hotline at 800-656-HOPE or chat online at online.rainn.org.
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