Sailors subjected to sexual harassment, gay-baiting — and it was encouraged
This is an outrage. As reported in an investigation by Youth Radio, members of the U.S. Navy’s Bahrain Military Working Dogs Division have been subject to unbelievable abuse by colleagues that involve sexual humiliation, harassment and gay-baiting. And there are FOIA documents to prove it.
It was inside that Bahrain kennel in July 2005 that Petty Officer Joseph Christopher Rocha, then 19 years old, says he was being terrorized by other members of his own division. “I was hog-tied to a chair, rolled around the base, left in a dog kennel that had feces spread in it.”
Rocha says that beginning six weeks into his deployment, he was singled out for abuse by his chief master-at-arms, Michael Toussaint, and others on the base, once Rocha made it clear he was not interested in prostitutes. “I was in a very small testosterone-driven unit of men,” Rocha says. “I think that’s what began the questioning-you know-‘Why don’t you want to have sex with her? Are you a faggot?’”
“Petty Officer Rocha and another junior sailor…were instructed to go into a classroom by Chief Michael Toussaint, who orchestrated the entire training. And Chief Toussaint asked them to simulate homosexual sex on a couch,” Hogan says.
…Rocha says at the time, he had no gay friends, no male lovers, and wasn’t even fully out to himself about his sexuality. “The fact that I was starting to figure out that I was a homosexual, it was the most degrading thing I’ve ever experienced in my life.” Still, eight thousand miles away from home, he was afraid to report the constant hazing. And Rocha was not the only one.
This sick bastard Toussaint didn’t see anything wrong with this treatment of those he was serving with. And when word started to get out about allegations of rampant abuse of this nature, all talk of it was quashed.
Allegations of abuse across the unit escalated to a point that Navy officials enlisted Marine Corps Captain Brooks Braden to carry out an independent investigation. When Youth Radio reached Braden by phone, he said he didn’t have authorization to discuss “any investigations that may or may not have occurred.” There are a variety of opinions as to what specifically triggered the investigation of the Working Dogs Division. What’s not in question are the Findings of Fact highlighted in the Navy’s report.
…Some sailors participated in the culture of hazing as victims, others as perpetrators, or in some cases both. They say the hazing continued because of a series of threats that were also integral to the culture of the unit, which not only tolerated abuse, but also invited it. To prevent them from speaking out, sailors Youth Radio interviewed say Toussaint would threaten to revoke their handlers’ licenses–taking away their dogs and their specialty in the Navy.
How does this cultivate “military readiness”? It makes you wonder what they would do to women who served in this unit? Never mind Elaine Donnelly’s protestations and fantasies of gay and lesbian service members running rampant — she she probably has nothing to say of the persecution of those serving by heterosexual beasts like Toussaint, and those higher up who believe this is appropriate for “unit cohesion.” This has nothing to do with sexual orientation and everything to do with criminal behavior. BTW, did I mention that since the launch of the investigation, the Navy has promoted Chief Michael Toussaint to the rank of Senior Chief.
There is much more in this article that you have to read.
The Palm Center responds to the news:
Rocha was a military police officer with anti-terrorism training who graduated at the top of his military class, and who received favorable performance evaluations throughout his career. His unit mates first suspected that he is gay in 2004 when he refused to sleep with female prostitutes, a practice that was widespread at his base. Rocha did not report the abuse, which continued until 2006, because he feared retaliation as well as discharge under “don’t ask, don’t tell.” According to Aaron Belkin, Director of the Palm Center, “it is very hard for an organization to get rid of abuse as long as discrimination remains official policy.”