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Congressman Calls for Explanation of Navy Abuse

Timothy Kincaid

September 22nd, 2009
Former Petty Officer Third Class Joseph Rocha

Former Petty Officer Third Class Joseph Rocha

Earlier this month we told you of Petty Officer 3rd Class Joseph Rocha who was abused and harassed by his officers because he didn’t visit prostitutes and thus must be gay.

At one point, the documents show, Rocha was hog-tied, fed dog food and tossed into a dog kennel full of feces. Commanders also openly questioned his sexuality and forced him to simulate oral sex on other men.

When Rocha finally did come out, he was tossed out of the military as being unfit and his tormentor was promoted.

While this sort of behavior might fit right in with the attitudes of some of the upper brass in the Pentagon, those who answer to the American people are a bit more inclined to find it abhorrent. Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pennsylvania, a former Navy rear admiral and the highest ranking officer ever to serve in Congress, wrote to Navy Secretary Raymond Mabus to inquire about the circumstances.

And it turns out that once the spotlight is shining on particularly egregious behavior, the Navy isn’t quite as proud of its bullies and bigots. (SunNews)

“The incidents that occurred within the Military Working Dog Division at Naval Support Activity Bahrain do not reflect who we are as a Navy,” said Cmdr. Cappy Surette, a Navy spokesman. “The Navy is now looking into the handling of this situation more carefully.”

And indeed care should be taken. Sestak is being specific.

Sestak also is requesting information regarding Chief Petty Officer Michael Toussaint, who was responsible for the unit and was later promoted to senior chief.

“It would astound me if he was promoted if these allegations are true,” Sestak said in an interview. “What kind of a command climate is that?”

Rocha’s circumstances are certainly not unique. But his is but one more story that is reaching the American public and illustrating that gay people are not the problem with the military and its culture.

I suspect that Sestak will get the cooperation he has requested. He is a member of the House Armed Services Committee.



Chris McCoy
September 22nd, 2009 | LINK

I’d wager the officer’s defense (and that of the fundie supporters) will be to the tune of “the fag had it coming” and “he got what he deserved.”

My Senior year of High school, my SAT and ACT scores garnered attention from all 5 branches of service. Most of them went away with a simple “No thanks” or “I’m not interested.” The Navy recruiter was the most aggressive, to the point where the only thing I thought would finally make him go away was to come out. His unhesitating reply – “That’s okay, we have don’t ask, don’t tell!”

I shudder to think – this poor soldier’s fate could easily have been mine.

Is Rep Sestak co-signer on the new bill to repeal DA/DT? If he isn’t, someone in his constituency should suggest him.

Richard W. Fitch
September 22nd, 2009 | LINK

Rep. Sestak’s name seemed familiar to me. Here is the story: Rep. Sestak(D-PA) on DADT

Richard W. Fitch
September 22nd, 2009 | LINK

“href” tag didn’t work for some reason.

Emily K
September 22nd, 2009 | LINK

Yeah, that’s MY representative! Go, Joe!

September 22nd, 2009 | LINK

And the Obama Administration’s silence remains deafening on this and other issues related to the fair treatment of GLBT Americans…

September 22nd, 2009 | LINK

Sestak is running against recently-turned-Democratic Senator Arlen Specter in the primary. He deserves to win.

September 23rd, 2009 | LINK

Relevant clarification from the AP coverage: It’s not that Rocha didn’t tag along during excursions to visit prostitutes, “he would not avail himself of prostitutes who visited their quarters.”

September 24th, 2009 | LINK

Been there, survived that…that kind of abuse is common. Even outright violations of the UCMJ such as insubordnation and assault were permitted when I was in (yes, under don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t harass and don’t pursue) You can have dozens or hundreds walk thru and tell thier stories, but so long as some crusty says “they had it coming, they’re gay” they’ll sweep it under the carpet.

It’ll take another tail hook to being it to national attention and get action.

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