Officer forced to retire after hazing incident

The chief petty officer in charge of a bomb-sniffing dog unit is being forced out of his position after military officials investigated hazing incidents that occurred in the unit.
The Naval Security Force Base in Bahrain, a small island nation in the Persian Gulf.
The Naval Security Force Base in Bahrain, a small island nation in the Persian Gulf.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — About three years ago, when naval officer Joseph Rocha refused to sleep with prostitutes, contrary to what the other men in his dog unit were doing, suspicion arose about Rocha’s sexual orientation. Later Rocha was tied to a chair, left in a dog kennel, hosed down in uniform and forced to simulate oral sex to another sailor.

After that, the naval officer decided he had enough and told his commander he was gay, which resulted in his discharge under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Now the chief petty officer in charge of Rocha’s bomb-sniffing dog  unit—Michael Toussaint—is being forced out of his position after the military officials investigated Rocha’s and other hazing incidents that occurred in the unit.

“I think it’s a phenomenal step in the right direction,” Rocha said. “I think that it will have lasting implications, for sure, especially as we approach a vote on don’t ask, don’t tell.”

More than 90 hazing incidents were reported between 2004 and 2006 at the Military Working Dog Division at Naval Security Force in Bahrain, according to the Navy review.

To read more about this story, visit the Associated Press.

– Simon Husted

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