Marine Corps officials are gathering details about an emotional video shared widely on social media this week in which a woman claims a man who admitted to sexual misconduct will be allowed to remain in the service.
The video, posted to TikTok on Thursday, shows a Marine in tears saying a commanding general has opted to allow a man accused of sexual misconduct to remain in the Corps despite proof and his admission of guilt.
"This is exactly why ... females in the military f---ing kill themselves," the woman yells through her tears.
Marine officials are "aware of the video and [are] gathering all the details of the situation," Capt. Casey Littesy, a spokeswoman for the service, said Friday morning.
"Sexual assault is a crime, is unacceptable, and violates our core values of honor, courage and commitment," Littesy said. "We will respond with an update when we have more information."
Additional questions about what commanding general made the decision, why and whether it was under any sort of review were referred to the North Carolina-based II Marine Expeditionary Force. A II MEF spokeswoman said the command is aware of the video and looking into the matter.
"We will be in touch once we gain more information," she said.
The TikTok user who posted the video did not respond to questions from Military.com.
According to the Marine in the video, the perpetrator, whom she faced in court, was initially set to receive an honorable discharge. That could have potentially allowed the man to join another military service.
Then, she adds, she got word that the man would be retained.
"All the way up, across the board, everybody said they would not retain him," she said. "And the f---ing head honcho ... [with] admission to guilt decided that they will retain him."
When asked about the video Friday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called it "deeply disturbing" and said he has requested more information from his staff.
"We have to get the facts, we have to understand what just happened," Austin said. "Let me also say that I care about each and every one of our troops, and certainly I'm going to ask that her chain of command makes sure that someone is looking out after her needs and make sure that we're taking care of her."
The video was shared on Twitter, where it received thousands of retweets. Users tagged Commandant Gen. David Berger in their responses, along with the acting Navy secretary and members of Congress, calling on them to act.
"This is absolutely heart-wrenching to watch and listen to," one Navy officer responded. "We as leaders continue to say there is no place in the military for sexual assault, but yet, time after time, the opposite rings true."
"She deserves better. Do better," another person replied.
Last month, the SecDef ordered the military's top leaders to report on what they're doing to prevent sexual assault and harassment, and how they know those measures are working. Marine Corps officials did not immediately answer questions about what details they provided to Austin; the reports were due Feb. 5.
Austin told senators during his January nomination hearing that he takes the issue of sexual assault "seriously and personally."
"If confirmed," he said, "I would like to work with the chain of command and very rapidly assess what things need to be fixed or addressed."