We reported on the web last week and in this week’s issue about Big Navy’s decision to allow Senior Chief Master-at-Arms Michael Toussaint to be allowed to retire in grade with an honorable discharge. Toussaint was censured by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus over a 2007 Navy investigation finding more than 90 instances of gambling, consorting with prostitutes, hazing and abuse of junior sailors during his 2004-2006 tenure at Naval Security Force Bahrain’s military dog division.
The Associated Press also filed a story. Now, a key figure in the investigation has stepped forward to question AP’s story lead, “The Navy is admitting it was wrong when it accused dog handler Michael Toussaint of vicious hazing that singled out a gay sailor under his command at kennels in Bahrain. Navy officials ruled last year that the investigation into the charges against Toussaint was of ‘poor quality’ and ‘flawed,’ with many of the claims unsubstantiated, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.”
“But AP’s conclusion is wrong,” former Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Joseph Rocha writes in a first-person story published Sunday on The Huffington Post. “After an official Navy investigation found 93 instances of abuse and misconduct under Toussaint’s command, many of which entailed violations of military law, a second investigation found flaws in the first investigation. There were indeed flaws in the first investigation. But that is not the same as concluding that Toussaint is innocent or that the Navy believes that it was wrong in accusing him.”
Last week, Juan Garcia, assistant secretary of the Navy for manpower and reserve affairs, announced that Toussaint “did not meet the standards expected of senior leadership in the Navy,” but allowed him to retire honorably, in grade, citing the overall body of work in his career.
Rocha commends the Navy — but not, as you can read for yourself at the link above, the AP. Here’s how he concludes his piece:
“The bottom line is this. My commander created a climate of fear in my unit which included a pattern of abuse, much of it directed at me. I did not complain about any of this, but an investigation was launched nonetheless when another unit member notified authorities. Multiple members of my unit testified about the abuse during the investigation. Although there were flaws in that investigation, there was more than enough evidence for the Navy to censure my commander for hazing, to force him to retire and to state, officially, that he does not meet the standards expected of a leader. The U.S. Navy did the right thing in this case. AP did not.”