‘Disgusting,’ NC’s Tillis says of nude photos on Marines’ Facebook page

FILE – U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., at a Capitol Hill hearing, Jan. 28, 2015.
FILE – U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., at a Capitol Hill hearing, Jan. 28, 2015. AP

North Carolina Republican U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis on Tuesday condemned as “disgusting” reported acts by some Marines – including at least one at Camp Lejeune – suspected of participating in a Facebook page that circulated nude photos of female Marines.

“That’s an incident where we have to get down to the bottom of it and there has to be a consequence for people who were involved in it,” Tillis said Tuesday at the U.S. Capitol.

A Naval Criminal Investigative Services case was opened in recent days at Camp Lejeune, in Jacksonville, N.C., after reports surfaced of Marines posting nude photos of their female coworkers and other images they took.

Marine Corps officials say the investigation could include hundreds of active duty and retired personnel, possibly including contractors who worked on military bases.

Some of the photos on the “Marines United” Facebook page sparked sexually-explicit remarks and some men encouraging each other to sexual assault or rape female Marines. One case under investigation involved a female Marine at Camp Lejeune who was secretly photographed while working on base. Comments on the photo urged the man who took the photo to rape the woman on base.

The Facebook page was first exposed by The Center for Investigative Journalism and North Carolina resident and retired Marine Thomas Brennan, working with The War Horse, a nonprofit military and veterans journalism organization.

U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, a Republican whose coastal North Carolina congressional district includes Camp Lejeune, sent a letter Tuesday to Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller asking to be kept abreast of developments from the investigation. Once the investigation is finished, Jones wrote, he wants a full briefing.

Jones called the alleged activity on the “Marines United” Facebook page “wrong” and said such acts “have no place in our military.” He also called on Neller to ensure victims and female Marines get appropriate care and resources.

While top military officials investigate at Camp Lejeune, local law enforcement officers in Onslow County are tracking down at least one person who has made threats against Brennan.

Richlands, N.C., Police Chief Ron Lindig told McClatchy Tuesday Brennan and his wife were targeted online by a person apparently angry about his investigative work.

“For all we could see, there was some reason to be concerned,” Lindig said, adding that the case will be investigated as online harassment or possibly communicating a threat.

Police have determined the threat against Brennan came from a person outside of North Carolina, Lindig said. His department is working with detectives in that person’s suspected home state to track the computer’s IP address and confirm the person’s identity, he said.

Lindig said because the investigation is ongoing, he cannot disclose which state the person lives in or the details of the threat. Richlands Police took on the case Sunday, just two days after Brennan’s story was published online.

Correction: An earlier version of this story identified Thomas Brennan’s town of residence as Highlands. He lives in Richlands.

Anna Douglas: 202-383-6012, @ADouglasNews

Donovan Harrell: 202-383-6044, @dono_harrell