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Navy Forces Out Non-Com Officer In Gay Hazing Case

Joseph Rocha. i

Joseph Rocha on duty in Bahrain before he left the Navy after being hazed for being gay. Hasan Jamali/AP Photo hide caption

itoggle caption Hasan Jamali/AP Photo
Joseph Rocha.

Joseph Rocha on duty in Bahrain before he left the Navy after being hazed for being gay.

Hasan Jamali/AP Photo

A non-commissioned Navy officer who ordered the harassment of homosexual sailors in his unit will be forced from the service, according to reports.

According to a piece on the website of the Virginian-Pilot newspaper which serves Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia:

Senior Chief Michael Toussaint, a dog handler assigned to Naval Special Warfare Group 2 in Virginia Beach, has also received a letter of censure from the Secretary of the Navy. The letter will become part of his permanent military record, said Cmdr. Elissa Smith, a Navy spokeswoman at the Pentagon.

Smith said Adm. Gary Roughead, the chief of naval operations, canceled Toussaint's enlistment extension, which will force him to leave active duty and retire in January. He won't necessarily be able to retire as a senior chief: Navy officials ordered that he be subject to "retirement pay grade determination," in which the secretary of the Navy will decide at what pay grade he may retire. Smith could not speculate on what that might mean, except to say that it "has the potential to significantly impact Senior Chief Toussaint's retirement pay."

The case became fairly high profile when details of the hazing of homosexual sailors became public.

Also, one of the central figures in the case, Joseph Rocha, who was a petty officer in Toussaint's but has since left the Navy after he was hazed because of his sexual orientation, became an outspoken critic of the military's treatment of gays.

More from the Virginia Pilot:

Smith said Adm. Gary Roughead, the chief of naval operations, canceled Toussaint's enlistment extension, which will force him to leave active duty and retire in January. He won't necessarily be able to retire as a senior chief: Navy officials ordered that he be subject to "retirement pay grade determination," in which the secretary of the Navy will decide at what pay grade he may retire. Smith could not speculate on what that might mean, except to say that it "has the potential to significantly impact Senior Chief Toussaint's retirement pay."

The announcement follows Roughead's decision last month to re-examine the handling of an investigation into hazing and abusive behavior at a Navy dog-handling unit in Bahrain in 2005 and 2006. Toussaint commanded the dog handlers and kennel until March 2006.

A command investigation completed in January 2007 substantiated more than 90 instances of abuse, including sailors being forcing to simulate homosexual oral sex in training videos, being force-fed dog treats and being locked in a kennel. Toussaint, who sailors said ordered many of the actions, had already transferred to another job and subsequently was promoted.

The woman who took his place, Petty Officer 1st Class Jennifer Valdivia, took her own life in Bahrain after she was notified that she had been implicated in the investigation.

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