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Navy to Separate Sailors Who Share Nude Photos Without Permission

Sailors man the rails of a guided missile cruiser as it returns to Norfolk Naval Base in Norfolk, Va. (U.S. Navy/Specialist Melissa D. Redinger/Released)
Sailors man the rails of a guided missile cruiser as it returns to Norfolk Naval Base in Norfolk, Va. (U.S. Navy/Specialist Melissa D. Redinger/Released)

Following the Marine Corps' lead, the Navy on Tuesday announced a new policy requiring sailors found guilty of sharing "intimate images" without consent to be processed for separation from the service.

The policy is an update to a regulation created by the Navy last month that formally made nonconsensual nude photo-sharing a prosecutable violation. That regulation also prohibited sharing of intimate photos with intent to intimidate, humiliate or harass the subject.

The new rules come in the wake of a scandal involving a Facebook page, Marines United, in which dozens of active-duty service members, primarily Marines, were found to have circulated a drive containing nude and compromising photos of female troops.

"There is no room in our Navy for this toxic behavior," Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Robert Burke said in a statement released Tuesday. "This new policy shows that we are committed to eradicating this behavior from our force."

According to a Navy-wide administrative message, the Navy Military Personnel Manual has been updated to require enlisted personnel who violate the new rule to be processed for administrative separation. Officers found to be in violation must also be reported by their command for administrative separation proceedings.

While mandatory processing does not mean that all sailors who engaged in nonconsensual photo-sharing will be kicked out of the Navy, it does mean that they must be evaluated by senior authorities to determine if their actions warrant separation.

Similar requirements are already tied to other "zero-tolerance" offenses, including sexual misconduct and assault; violent conduct causing death or bodily injury; and supremacist or extremist conduct, among others.

The Marine Corps moved May 10 to make non-consensual photo-sharing an offense warranting separation, updating its Separation and Retirement Manual to that effect.

Military.com was first to report in March that the two services were considering this step after the Marines United scandal resulted in a flurry of congressional hearings and investigations into the extent of the abusive behavior.

Investigations into the specifics of the scandal continue as officials with the Marine Corps and Naval Criminal Investigative Service determine how many troops are guilty of sharing the drive. The Marine Corps has also activated a task force to determine the extent of the misogynistic online behavior and eradicate its roots in the service.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at@HopeSeck.

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Headlines Navy Women in the Military Military Scandals Sexual Harassment Military Legal Hope Seck

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