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The secretary of defense responded to a viral video of a female Marine tearfully claiming that a man who admitted to sexually assaulting her has been allowed to stay in the Corps.
In the video, which was posted to TikTok Thursday, the woman alleges that a commanding general, despite possessing evidence and an admission of guilt, made the decision to permit the man to remain in the service. Insider was not able to independently verify these claims, and Marine spokespeople said Friday they were investigating.
“This is exactly why f—ing females in the military f—ing kill themselves,” the woman, whom an advocacy group identified as a Marine sergeant, said in the video.
This is what happens when you report your assault in the @USMC He admits his guilt and then is retained by the Commanding General after everyone else recommended do not retain. @RepSpeier @SenGillibrand @KamalaHarris @SecDef this is bullshit. #metoomilitary #sexualassault pic.twitter.com/xogqY4SPKI
— #NotInMyMarineCorps (@NotInMyMarines) February 18, 2021
“I found the video deeply disturbing,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Friday in response to questions about the video during his first press briefing. “I’ve asked my staff for additional information.”
“I care about each and every one of our troops,” he added. “I’m going to ask that her chain of command makes sure that someone is looking out after her needs and is making sure that we’re taking care of her.”
The Marine Corps todl Insider in an emailed statement that the service is “aware of the video and is gathering all the details of the situation.”
“Sexual assault is a crime, is unacceptable, and violates our core values of honor, courage, and commitment,” the statement said.
We are aware of the video of the Marine in distress. The Marine Corps takes all allegations of misconduct seriously. The Marine’s command @iimefmarines has taken action to ensure the Marine is safe.
— U.S. Marines (@USMC) February 19, 2021
The scourge of sexual assault in the military is one that has yet to be properly addressed, despite strong condemnations by Pentagon leaders.
Former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis previously said that sexual assault in the armed forces as a cancer, writing in a 2018 memo that “sexual assault is one of the most destructive factors in building a mission-focused military.”
The same year that memo was sent out, the Department of Defense saw an alarming 13% increase in reports of sexual assault over the previous year. 2019 saw a another 3% increase.
Shortly after taking office as the new defense secretary, Austin sent out a memo vowing to make combatting sexual assault a priority in the department and pressing military leaders to report on their efforts to address this longstanding problem.