Four Marines who have been sent to the brig for sexual assault share their disheartening stories in a documentary that aims to scare other Marines away from the kinds of mistakes that might lead to sexual assault.
“Lost Honor,” a 28-minute video produced by Marine Corps Defense Services Organization and released July 12, follows a female and three male Marines as they discuss how their lives and careers fell apart when they were convicted of sexual assault and labeled sex offenders. Three of the them speak from the brig. The fourth appears in civilian clothes, having been dishonorably discharged after serving time.
The video aims to show, in the starkest terms possible, the consequences of criminal behavior and the poor decision-making that led to it. Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Mike Barrett has called it a “Scared Straight” type of video, a reference to the 1978 documentary in which juvenile delinquents spent time with felons and learned about the realities of life in prison.
Col. John Baker, chief defense counsel of the DSO, said it takes a different approach from training videos Marines have watched in the past. This one focuses almost exclusively on how offenders are impacted by their decisions, which sends a strong message about deterrence and accountability, he said.
“ ‘Lost Honor” is intended as a wake-up call to our Marines by confronting them with real stories of young Marines who committed sexual assault crimes, were convicted at court-martial, sentenced to confinement and must register as sex offenders,” Baker said.
The video appears on DSO’s website. Also on the site is a link to a seven-page discussion guide meant to facilitate small-unit talks on the topic of sexual assault prevention and response. The guide brings up key points that appear in connection with each of the convicted Marines’ story, including how alcohol can cloud decision-making and how elements of a person’s privacy disappear in the face of sexual assault charges.
“ ‘Lost Honor’ is the latest tool available to commanders to help ensure Marines take care of one another and treat each other with respect,” Baker said. “It is designed to be viewed in small groups and be followed by a frank and focused discussion, led by commander-selected staff sergeants and sergeants.”
The video emphasizes the importance of stepping up to stop something bad from happening if Marines see social encounters moving in a troubling direction.
As the name suggests, the video also highlights the difficulties the Marines had in telling members of their family or their unit that they had been accused of sexual assault.
“How do you tell your family that you’ve been brought up on charges?” one Marine asks. “How do you look your family in the face after you leave and they expect you to do great things.”