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Second Marine NCO disciplined for Facebook comments defending R. Kelly and statutory rape
A Marine staff noncommissioned officer has been disciplined after defending rap artist R. Kelly on Facebook by claiming that men are "biologically designed" to be attracted to underage girls.
Gunnery Sgt. Nicholas Russo received "appropriate administrative action" following a command investigation into his Jan. 10 Facebook comments, said Capt. Matthew Gregory, a spokesman for Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California.
Russo's command declined to specify what type of administrative action was taken against the NCO, Gregory said. Under the Defense Department's directive on the Privacy Act, the type of punishment that Russo received is not considered releasable information, he said.
"To balance the privacy concerns between the Marine and the command, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron declines to comment in detail on the character of Gunnery Sgt. Russo's disciplinary administrative action," Gregory said. "However, it was appropriate and within existing precedent following the conclusion of the investigation."
The Jan. 10 Facebook discussion centered on allegations of sexual assault against Kelly. A recent documentary about the rap artist claimed that Kelly married singer Aaliyah and got her pregnant when she was just 15.
When one Facebook user blamed Aliyah for getting pregnant, another argued that it is unfair to blame a young girl and absolve an adult man.
"Wow...let's place all the blame on a man who is biologically designed to act that way ... and not the woman who wanted to do it," Russo responded. "And I do believe she was 16."
"Quite frankly if she pursues it then let her," Russo continued. "Stop prosecuting adults when this happens. Now if an adult is pursuing then that's a different story."
When Russo made the comments in January, he had recently been reassigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron at Miramar "for reasons unrelated to the social media comments," Gregory said at the time. His prior assignment was serving as staff noncommissioned officer in charge of the Marine Detachment at the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training in San Diego.
Russo's case is not an isolated incident. Recently, 2nd Marine Logistics Group administratively disciplined a senior noncommissioned officer for making comments and a video on Facebook disparaging sexual assault victims.
While also discussing the R. Kelly documentary, Master Sgt. Mark McBride argued that some girls have sex with men "for some type of monetary gain."
McBride received "an adverse administrative action and counseling," said 2nd MLG spokesman Gunnery Sgt. Jason Fudge, who could not elaborate on exactly how McBride was punished.
Former Marine Sgt. Erin Kirk-Cuomo, co-founder of the group "Not In My Marine Corps," said she is glad that Russo and McBride were investigated, but she believes their exact punishments should be made public so that all Marines are aware of the consequences of social media misconduct.
"It is interesting that the Marine Corps continues to decline to make these administrative actions public over concerns for the Marines personal privacy when said Marine had no problem publicly stating that statutory rape was the victims fault," Kirk-Cuomo told Task & Purpose. "When Marines make statements publicly on social media that go against the Corps values and disobey direct orders from the Commandant, they forfeit their right to privacy when they are disciplined."
Not In My Marine Corps was founded after the 2017 Marines United Scandal, when Marine veteran and journalist Thomas Brennan first exposed a Facebook page where veterans would share nude photos of female service members and other veterans, who subsequently became targets of harassment.
Since then, all Marines have been required to sign a Page 11 entry acknowledging that they have read and understood the Corps' social media policy. However, Kirk-Cuomo says that Marines continue to engage in misogynistic behavior online, such as sharing revenge pornography and making sexist memes of female Marines.
"This needs to stop and the best way to do this is to continue to make punishments public," she said.
WATCH NEXT: Commandant Gen. Neller Talks Social Media Misconduct
The command chief of the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, was removed from his position last month after his chain of command received evidence he disrespected his subordinates.
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
The "suck it up and drive on" mentality permeated our years in the U.S. military and often led us to delay getting both physical and mental health care. As veterans, we now understand that engaging in effective care enables us not just to survive but to thrive. Crucially, the path to mental wellness, like any serious journey, isn't accomplished in a day — and just because you need additional or recurring mental health care doesn't mean your initial treatment failed.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has called on the security alliance's allies to maintain and strengthen their "unity," saying the organization is "the only guarantor of European and transatlantic security."
Stoltenberg told reporters on November 19 that NATO "has only grown stronger over the last 70 years" despite "differences" among the allies on issues such as trade, climate, the Iran nuclear deal, and the situation in northeastern Syria.
He was speaking at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels on the eve of a NATO foreign ministers meeting aimed at finalizing preparations for next month's summit in London.
WASHINGTON — More than $35 million of the roughly $400 million in aid to Ukraine that President Donald Trump delayed, sparking the impeachment inquiry, has not been released to the country, according to a Pentagon spending document obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
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The admiral in charge of Navy special operators will decide whether to revoke the tridents for Eddie Gallagher and other SEALs involved in the Navy's failed attempt to prosecute Gallagher for murder, a defense official said Tuesday.
The New York Times' David Philipps first reported on Tuesday that the Navy could revoke the SEAL tridents for Gallagher as well as his former platoon commander Lt. Jacob Portier and two other SEALs: Lt. Cmdr. Robert Breisch and Lt. Thomas MacNeil.
The four SEALs will soon receive a letter that they have to appear before a board that will consider whether their tridents should be revoked, a defense official told Task & Purpose on condition of anonymity.