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October 22nd, 2009
06:20 AM ET

Sailor forced out, facing punishment in Navy hazing scandal

By Carol Costello and Ronni Berke

The Navy has censured and will remove from active duty the former leader of its canine unit in Bahrain after reviewing a 2007 investigation into reports of hazing and abuse of a gay dog handler and other sailors.

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/22/toussaint.navy.art.jpg caption="Senior Chief Michael Toussaint's enlistment extension has been canceled, which will force him to leave active duty and retire in January, 2010."]

Admiral Gary Roughead, the commander of Naval Operations, has canceled Senior Chief Michael Toussaint's enlistment extension, which will force him to leave active duty and retire in January, 2010. Although the previous Navy investigation found more than 90 alleged incidents of hazing and harassment, including forcing the gay sailor, Joseph Rocha, to simulate oral sex with another man, no one appeared to have been disciplined.

Toussaint was subsequently promoted to senior chief and assigned to work with the elite Navy SEALS. Wednesday’s announcement meant Toussaint will be stripped of his leadership position and assigned to administrative duties at the Navy Special Warfare Group 2 in Virginia. In addition, Toussaint's retirement pay will be reviewed.

"Admiral Roughhead found that the incidents were not in keeping with Navy values and standards and violated the Navy's longstanding prohibition against hazing," said Navy spokeswoman and Commander Elissa Smith. "Our sailors are to be treated with dignity and respect in a healthy and positive working environment."

Joe Rocha, the sailor who says he was tormented daily for more than two years when Toussaint suspected he was gay, told CNN he welcomed the news. “It gives me and a lot of people a lot of hope in that this is a great day for everyone, for our men, our women, heterosexual, lesbian, or gay, for everyone, this reestablishes what Navy leadership is, that anything less than leadership that meets the corp's values will be punished.” Watch Rocha react to the news Video

Rocha does regret, however, that Toussaint will apparently not face a court martial. CNN reached out to Senior Chief Toussaint for a comment on the Navy’s decision, but a Navy spokesman said Toussaint is not commenting to the press.

Report: Sailors hogtied, fed dog treats


Filed under: Military
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. ceejaecee

    The Navy still does not "GET IT"! I was ordered to report my hazing incident from a hospital bed in 2004 up the COC. A JAG investigation was completed. I requested a copy via FOIA. First it was misplaced by the lead JAG (per emails sent back to me), then when I really got upset about the report... the Navy said I couldn't have it! It's 2010. I have PTSD as a result of what has happened to me by an EMCM, CSSC, ETC, and the debilitating injuries both physical and mental from the hazing (attempt to drown) ordeal. I am out of energy and only have hope that my case will be reopened by the CNO, Adm. Gary Roughead. I would hate to think he (the admiral) only chose this case because of the gay issue? The 3 chief’s only got a "slap on the wrist". I still suffer on meds & go to counseling. I was NEVER afforded any legal rights. The "process" & the "guidelines" set out by the MCPON were NEVER followed. I ache, NO...cry for the victims-this should have NEVER happened. The USN made it convenient to cheat me the victim out of 20 years of military service. I was medically retired with only 19 yrs/ 6mos. The others probably by now have or will retire with full military benefits. What a shame! Maybe...had the Navy prosecuted the perpetrators in my case, there might have been safety/training measures in place since OBVIOUSLY the MCPON's guidelines were not then and still not being followed. God be with all the survivors. FYI: Inquire: Hazing Orlando, FL 2004 (EMCM Grantier, CSSC Schaefer, and ETC Beolet). I challenge the Navy to reopen my case.

    February 6, 2010 at 6:11 am |
  2. Rampage

    Nonsense....most of what I'm reading. What ever has become of men or women taking charge of their own lives. Granted, there are acceptable yet unpleasant experiences we all tolerate in life. But when it crosses the limit–...and who sets that...each individual–then the individual should handle it at the time legally or otherwise. I've tolerated much BS both in my military and civilain life, personal and business...but once ANYONE crosses the line..MY LINE...it's over...one way or another. So why are we discussing this issue 2 years after the fact??!! Amazing!! Anyone who takes BS from someone for 2 years and fails to handle such a situation on their if neccessary has a lot more crap headed their way in life. The world is comprised only of hunters and prey. No pity here. Choose your path and live with it............stop whining..make others do that if they won't stand their ground.

    October 28, 2009 at 9:34 pm |
  3. A-ROD

    mike t didnt do anything wrong he is a good man they just cant take orders like they are suppose to i hope rocha and his buddy get in trouble for lying about mike.

    October 23, 2009 at 8:25 pm |
  4. Dave

    You do not have to be gay to be tormented or harassed in the US NAVY. In the US Navy Bootcamp in Great Lakes, Illinois the so-called company commander Signalman Chief Charles H Armijo called me in and more or less accused me of being gay and then had his "lacky" , the appointed recruit chief petty officer Lawrence Molder start to drool and smile at me and pinch me on my buttocks pretending he was gay to try to get me to respond to him. He acted like what Armijo sterotyped "homosexual" person would act like. This same Chief Petty Officer Armijo saw a few unshaven whiskers on a recruit and then took out his zippo lighter and burned the whiskers off the recruits' face, saying " ya didn't think I do it didja" . There was no oversight, no one to complain to, and of course who would dare to complain anyway. Yes there were figurehead officers who were "dumped" there but no one ever saw them. After this treatment and seeing how a recruit had his whiskers burned off I just bided my time until I could get out. Anyone who wants to join the US Navy should spend some money and see a "shrink" first.

    October 22, 2009 at 1:43 pm |
  5. Michael

    this was just an act of dicrimination and harassment. yes the military has harsh training but this is just messed up. whether the sailor is gay or not they must be treated the same

    October 22, 2009 at 12:25 pm |
  6. C.A. Palumbo

    Who knows what really went on here. The headline erroneously reports that this sailor was an "officer." A senior chief petty officer is not an officer, any more than so-called "non-commissioned officer" in the army is an officer. These are enlisted personnel, in this case, pay grade E-8, where "E" stands for "Enlisted," When CNN can't do something so basic as tell the difference between an officer and an enlisted man - something a seven-year-old kid whose father is in the Navy could do - one wonders what else they got wrong. This is not a unique case but yet another example of the media showing itself unable to grasp the most rudimentary facts concerning the armed forces. The news media should have reporters and editors who specialize exclusively in military matters the way they do in financial news, politics, or even sports.

    As the late Admiral Hyman Rickover once said, "Journalists don't know enough about anything. A journalist is a person who can write in an authoritative manner about any subject. Journalists are the smartest people in the world, in their own opinion. If they were half as smart as they think they are, they wouldn't be journalists. It is much easier to write about what other people have done than what you have done." CNN should take heed.

    October 22, 2009 at 12:10 pm |
  7. Jack

    Tormenting any soldier every day for two years goes beyond making them tough. There are a lot of bullies in the military who love to pick on people and expect to get away with it because they're just making guys tough. It's sad that people in the military have to fear fellow soldiers. We're not the enemy.

    October 22, 2009 at 11:31 am |
  8. Peace

    I am glad that he is gone. What he did , was not honering the Navy Core Values of Honor Courage and Committment. He was the waste of space in the military and should have been court martialed. What about the Division Officer? I am sure that he or she knew something. This Senior Chief was was a sorry sailor who should have his rank reduced to E-5 and then made to retire. The Navy can do really strange things.

    October 22, 2009 at 11:26 am |
  9. Pete Marchesi

    Hello. Suicide. A very hard thing. A person gets tired of being blamed for the mistakes of others. He or she is feeling persecuted. We are sworn to duty. For no money. It is for honor. Which does not seem to have any monetary value. Sacrifice. Not for God, but for…

    No wonder there is suicide. I hate suicide. I hate when people are forced into that. But there is a reason. There are some of us who do not want other people around.

    Curious.

    Suicide. Such a bad thing. It is hard to take your own life. You must be really driven by others to get to that point. What persecutes us? I guess, words.

    I want to encourage everyone out there not to commit suicide. The army is a funny place. We cannot do things anymore for some intangible purpose.

    October 22, 2009 at 8:31 am |
  10. John Kesrouan

    What Michael Toussaint did are court martiable offenses. Why is he simply being allowed to retire? and retire with a honorable discharge and his pension. The navy's own investigation has uncovered NINETY instances of hazing under him.

    The navy's PR office simply says there are "unique circumstances". Unique circumstances and what unique circumstances might there be where his commanders involved in ordering him to haze? This thing should not just end here there are a lot of unanswered questions.

    October 22, 2009 at 8:11 am |
  11. Norman D Mitchell

    Justice has been served. I still feel sorry for Rocha and other Sailors who have been or currently are victims of hazing due to their sexuality. The time will come that one day the world will see that gay Sailors and other military are here to serve their country.

    October 22, 2009 at 7:51 am |
  12. Denise

    Why is anyone surprised?! With a policy like "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" set in place by the Federal Government this society is set up to allow gay hatred and hazing. It is the last "allowed" discrimination and someday everyone will be humiliated by our socities past, much like we currently are when we look back on slavery and when blacks and whites couldn't marry. It's time to step up, change the military, allow gay marriage and stop this government sanctioned hatred and discrimination! We learn from the top down and the top is making decisions not on good treatment of human beings, but rather the religious right extremists with enough money to change elections. Disgusting. There were hundreds of thousands of people marching on D.C. Last week to fight for "National Equality"....yet stories of hazing and violence towards gays continues. Everyone needs to step up and say out loud...."THIS IS NOT OKAY AND MUST CHANGE!!"

    October 22, 2009 at 7:45 am |
  13. NS

    I don't know why this was labeled "Gay Hazing" on your tv show, you perpetuate the idea of an antigay military. This is hazing plain and simply.

    Our military needs to be tough, it's sad that these new soldiers and sailors are so sensitized they can't handle a little toughening up. Hazing happens in every unit, especially every combat unit. It does have a purpose.

    Obviously this Senior Chief was an asset to the Navy that has gone to waist. He should have be counseled but not relieved of duty.

    October 22, 2009 at 7:44 am |