Marine Who Filmed Women’s Bathroom Aboard Ship Loses Appeal

October 27, 2021Dustin Jones
Marine GoPro Bathroom

A Marine assigned to the USS Arlington filmed women using a bathroom on the ship during a 2019 deployment. US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jeraco Jenkins.

A Marine who used a GoPro camera mounted on a selfie stick to film women using a bathroom aboard the USS Arlington lost an appeal of his court-martial earlier this month. 

In an Oct. 1 opinion, a three-judge military panel ruled against Lance Cpl. Steven L. Smith, who had appealed his obstruction of justice conviction on technical grounds.

Smith’s appeal did not dispute the original conviction’s central finding that Smith filmed women in the ship’s bathroom in early 2019, nor did it dispute that, when a woman spotted the camera, he immediately threw the camera and its memory card overboard.

The filming was discovered in March of 2019, according to Stars and Stripes. The new ruling was originally reported Tuesday in a tweet by Associated Press reporter James LaPorta.

Marine GoPro Bathroom
A landing craft utility attached to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit performs a stern gate marriage with the amphibious transport dock ship. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stevie Tate.

In Smith’s original court-martial at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in May 2020, the sailor was found to have used a selfie stick to push his GoPro camera through a hole in the bulkhead between the women’s bathroom and his adjacent bunking compartment. In three months of filming, prosecutors found, he filmed at least one woman “as she dried off with a towel,” a video he had shown to at least two other Marines.

Smith, whose age was not specified in court documents, argued instead in his appeal that the military judge who sentenced him had overstepped his authority in finding him guilty of the obstruction charge. Smith asserted he was “merely concealing his offenses,” not obstructing justice, when he snapped the camera’s memory card in half and immediately tossed the GoPro overboard. Therefore, his lawyer argued, the judge should have looked into the case further before simply accepting his guilty pleas and handing down a sentence.

The Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the conviction, noting that Smith had admitted to immediately disposing of the memory card and camera when he heard a woman in the bathroom say “Is that a GoPro?” In the original court-martial, he said he did so because he feared there would be an investigation.

US Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Carl Mundy, the commander of Task Force 51, speaks to Marines with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and sailors with the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group embarked aboard the USS Arlington (LPD-24) while in port at the Naval Support Activity Bahrain, Jan. 18, 2016. US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Austin Long.

Not long after Smith threw the camera overboard, the judges wrote, Smith was proven correct: Senior enlisted personnel were already questioning Marines and sailors in Smith’s room by the time he returned from tossing the camera. Smith was advised of his rights and ultimately confessed, according to court documents.

The three-judge panel left little doubt that Smith’s attempt to hide behind technical legal rules did not outweigh his own confession, writing, “we decline Appellant’s invitation to ‘joust in the abstract’ through the creative spin with which he now asks us to view his own factual statements.”

The court upheld Smith’s original punishment of reduction in rank to E-1, four months of confinement, and a bad-conduct discharge.

Read Now: Any US Citizen Can Now Sponsor Afghan Refugees

Dustin Jones
Dustin Jones

Dustin Jones is a former senior staff writer for Coffee or Die Magazine covering military and intelligence news. Jones served four years in the Marine Corps with tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. He studied journalism at the University of Colorado and Columbia University. He has worked as a reporter in Southwest Montana and at NPR. A New Hampshire native, Dustin currently resides in Southern California.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
US Launches Airstrikes in Syria After Drone Kills US Worker

While it’s not the first time the U.S. and Iran have traded airstrikes in Syria, the attack and the ...

March 24, 2023Associated Press
The Gift jason dunham
‘The Gift’ Explores the Life and Legacy of Medal of Honor Recipient Jason Dunham

"The Gift" tells the story of the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor after the Vietnam War. ...

March 24, 2023Mac Caltrider
uss milius
US Denies Chinese Claim It Drove Away American Destroyer

The U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet said that a statement from China's Southern Theatre Command that it had fo...

March 23, 2023Associated Press
The Speed Project: Vet Team To Run in Lawless, Invite-Only Ultramarathon

For the first time, a team of (mostly) US veterans and active-duty service members will run in The S...

March 23, 2023Jenna Biter
uranium-based ammo ammunition Ukraine UK depleted uranium
A Look At the Uranium-Based Ammo the UK Will Send to Ukraine

The British defense ministry on Monday confirmed it would provide Ukraine with armor-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium.

March 23, 2023Associated Press
Zaporizhzhia Ukraine Russia
Ukraine: Russia Hits Apartments and Dorm, Killing Civilians

“Russia is shelling the city with bestial savagery,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote in a Telegr...

March 22, 2023Associated Press
cold brew coffee soda float
The Bitter Barista's Cold Brew Coffee Soda Float

Today, we combine the best of both worlds with this indulgent recipe, smashing together our love of coffee and ice cream with a cold brew coffee soda float!

March 21, 2023Heather Lynn
abrams tanks ukraine
US Speeds Up Abrams Tank Delivery to Ukraine War Zone

The original plan was to send Ukraine 31 of the newer M1A2 Abrams, which could have taken a year or ...

March 21, 2023Associated Press
  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
  • Request a Correction
  • Write for Us
  • General Inquiries
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved