Officer Responsible For Anti-Gay Harassment To Retire Early

Jim Burroway

October 22nd, 2009

Senior Chief Petty Officer Michael Toussaint

Senior Chief Petty Officer Michael Toussaint

The Navy announced yesterday that the chief petty officer responsible for sexually provocative hazings of junior sailors in Bahrain will be forced to retire in January, two years earlier than planned. He will also receive a letter of censure from the Secretary of the Navy, which the Virginia Pilot describes as “the harshest administrative action that can be taken against a sailor.”

Adm. Gary Roughead, the chief of naval operations, opted to cancel Toussaint’s final years of service. Roughead “found that the incidents were not in keeping with Navy values and standards and violated the Navy’s longstanding prohibition against hazing,” according to Smith. “Our sailors are to be treated with dignity and respect in a healthy and positive working environment.”

One victim, former Petty Officer 3rd Class Joseph Rocha, said he was subjected to repeated slurs about his sexuality after he refused to have sex with female prostitutes.

Petty Officer 1st Class Shaun Hogan submitted detailed notes about Toussaint’s abuse during more than two years under his command. Hogan told the Navy lawyer who originally handled the case that Toussaint routinely made inappropriate comments about and inquiries into sailors’ sex lives, and threatened to revoke sailors’ dog-handling credentials if they crossed him.

Hogan also described Toussaint’s directing the filming of training videos that required some sailors to act out lesbian love scenes, others to simulate gay male sex and one to have rubber balls thrown at his crotch, all in a guise of running the dogs – trained to sniff out explosives – through various “real life” scenarios.

Former Petty Officer 3rd Class Joseph Rocha

Former Petty Officer 3rd Class Joseph Rocha

With this move, Toussaint avoids a court martial. Joseph Rocha reacts:

“A lot of us are disappointed in that Toussaint won\’t see his day at a military court martial,” Rocha said. “But overall, I commend the CNO and the Secretary of the Navy for a wanting to look further into this, to see how widespread the corruption was.”

An unnamed commanding officer originally decided to handle the situation by issuing Toussaint a nonpunitive letter of reprimand. Rocha, who is gay went on to officer training, but left the Navy with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder over the harassment. Later, he met a reporter with Youth Radio and told his story. Youth Radio broadcast a powerful series of investigative reports into the incidents, many of which were picked up on National Public Radio.

Chris McCoy

October 22nd, 2009

He will also receive a letter of censure from the Secretary of the Navy, which the Virginia Pilot describes as “the harshest administration action that can be taken against a sailor.”

That’s a load of BS. Court Martial is the hardhest administrative action against any service member in any branch of the service.

This man will be Honorably Discharged, and therefore will receive a retirement pension and health benefits, at our expense for the rest of his life.

So much for justice.


October 22nd, 2009

It’s not really justice for Rocha, but we can at least take delight in the fact that the name Michael Toussaint will be associated with ‘thug’ and ‘bully’, and it’s there on google for everyone who knows him to see.

A pension he may have, but in the real world any sane person will see him as unemployable.

It’s for decent people to never let him forget that, until justice is properly served.

It’s difficult enough to recruit high-calibre personnel as it is. What message does it send out to potential recruits, when high command lets psycopaths and sadists like this off so lightly?


October 22nd, 2009

@Jim: The quote from the Virginia Pilot should read “the harshest administrative action” not “administration action.”

@Chris McCoy: Court martial isn’t an administrative action, it’s a judicial proceeding. Administrative action is described as “not punitive in character; instead, it is meant to be corrective and rehabilitative. Administrative actions include measures ranging from counseling or a reprimand to involuntary separation.”


October 22nd, 2009

Let’s be totally honest. The military has a good ole boy’s club mentality. Although they are all part of the DOD, and are required to follow the same rules, each branch, each command, each Commanding Officer interpets the rules/laws differently; just like the judicial system in the U.S.

The only reason anything happened to Toussaint is that the media and Rep. Joe Sestak got involved. Normally, or I should say 99% of the time, that doesn’t happen. Most won’t do as much as Rep. Sestak. Those who slapped Toussaint on the hand and recommended his promotion to Senior Chief should also be held accountable, but again, that won’t happen. In today’s military, shit rolls downhill, not up (ie. Abu Ghraib – if you read the account, only the enlisted and Commanding Officer suffered consequences, with the enlisted taking the brunt of the penalties). The old saying that the Captain goes down with his ship is purely mythical, especially today. The military is now all politics. No MacArthur’s, no Patton’s just political West Point/Annapolis servants.

What will be interesting is to see when Toussaint made Senior Chief. Normally a reduction in rank is down one. So, if he just made Senior Chief Petty Officer and is not getting paid for it yet, he is literally a Chief Petty Officer, so therefore his reduction would be to First Class Petty Officer and he would be retired as such. That, is a big blow, but I doubt that they will do that. He will probably retire as a Chief Petty Officer with full benefits, even though that doesn’t compensate for those who were abused (or ‘paid the price’) by his leadership.

Should he be allowed to retire? Well, that is a debate that will continue. It is mainly going to be on what the charges were, his performance beyond the hazings and past punishments (NJP/Court-Martial) of others who have committed the same ‘crime’.

We can say the military is doing the right thing, but that is only because their hand was forced.

Regan DuCasse

October 22nd, 2009

It should be noted that regardless of all the convenient finger pointing at gays and lesbians as so obsessed with sex and expressing it: straight males use sex as a means of humiliation, dominance and primal brutality.
Whether it’s against other males they think weak, i.e. gay males or women.

Not just for the military, but a lesson in equalizing factors: what straight males say they don’t like most about gay males is the one time they are in the shoes of women. Lesbians don’t really strike so much fear in straight women because they are more physically matched, same for the converse of males.

Homosexuality pretty much cancels out dangerous aggression if one were to encourage openness about sexuality and how the tempering factor of homosexuality affects men and women at either end of the gender poles.

By continuing to destroy or take out that tempering factor, the sort of alpha dog behaviors such as this, are allowed to run roughshod over civility.
And the military isn’t any more excuse to let this happen than in civilian society. Which of course they are not completely isolated from and are there to protect too.

James Nawrocki

October 22nd, 2009

Take it from a former Navy JAG, this was a whitewash. Better than nothing, but just barely to fool the public that strong action was taken. The proper response to such behavior would have been a court a special or even summary court martial. This Senior Chief (E-8) is in the special forces, so he will get off easy.


October 27th, 2009

He’s a chief petty officer? I could have sworn I was looking at a pedophile.

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