On Friday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin addressed a viral TikTok video of an excited Marine saying that his “perpetrator,” who admitted misconduct, was able to remain on duty.
Driving the news: Austin called the video “deeply disturbing” and said he asked his staff to obtain more information and provide assistance to the Navy.
- In the video, the Marine tearfully says a commanding general had intervened to allow his alleged perpetrator to remain in the Corps, despite an “admission of guilt.”
- “This is exactly why” women in the military have committed suicide, adds the Marine.
- The video, posted on TikTok on Thursday, has gone viral on various social media platforms.
What are they saying: “We are aware of the video circulating on social media about one of our Marines, “said the Marine Corps in a statement Friday Friday.
- “This video specifically refers to an allegation of misconduct regarding the unlawful appropriation and distribution of personal information,” the Corps added.
- “The current administrative process for the separation of the accused mentioned in the video is ongoing. The Marine in the video is safe and has been given the opportunity to meet with high-level representatives under his command.”
- “We take all allegations of prohibited conduct and activities very seriously to ensure that our people are fully supported by the appropriate resources specific to the nature of the incident.”
The panorama: In one of his first official acts as Pentagon chief, Austin directed senior military leaders to send him reports on sexual assault prevention programs so the department can assess which initiatives have been most effective.
- There were 7,825 reports of sexual assault involving service members as victims in 2019, up 3% from the previous year, according to the Department of Defense.
- While the military has been criticized for its handling of allegations of sexual misconduct for years, the issue gained renewed attention following the killing of Spc, 20. Vanessa Guillén, who told family and friends that she had been sexually harassed before disappearing from Fort Hood in April 2020.
- An independent review of the case found that “there was a permissive environment for sexual assault and sexual harassment at Fort Hood.”
Austin reiterated Friday that he takes the issue of sexual assault “very, very seriously.”
- “We’ve been working on this for a long time seriously, but we haven’t gotten it right,” Austin said. “And my commitment to my Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and dependents is that we will do everything in our power to get it right.”
Go deeper: Austin orders evaluation of military sexual assault prevention programs