DISMISSED: Joseph Rocha’s Abusive Commander Forced Out of Navy (Updated)


It’s no Don’t Ask Don’t Tell ousting, but Michael Toussaint (pictured) — the Navy commanding officer who allegedly instigated the horrific abuse aimed at Joseph Christopher Rocha in Bahrain — has been censured by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, forcing him to retire. Good riddance.

After an internal investigation into Toussaint’s conduct in the canine unit (where he was chief petty officer) amidst Congressional pressure, which some allege led fellow sailor Jennifer Valdivia to take her own life, the Navy’s Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead “found the incidents were not in keeping with Navy values and standards and violated Navy’s long standing prohibition against hazing,” says Navy spokesperson Commander Elissa Smith. Notes Youth Radio, which has been following Rocha’s story throughout: “Smith said the Secretary of the Navy’s letter of censure will become part of Toussaint’s permanent military record. Toussaint, now a senior chief petty officer, will be reassigned to Naval Special Warfare Group 2, where he will perform administrative duties until his retirement in January.”

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But, did we hear that right? Toussaint — who received a promotion even after Rocha’s allegations were investigated and dismissed — gets to retire? Which means he’ll keep his pension and benefits, correct?

If the Navy really did find Toussaint’s behavior that egregious, they should be demanding his resignation — which means no health benefits and no pension plan. We’re sure Toussaint did some admirable things during his Navy career, but that career also includes this: terrorizing fellow American soldiers because of their sexuality.

This man deserves nothing.

UPDATE: Rocha reacted on CNN last night.

UPDATE 2: Reader Scott points us to this Navy Times article, which notes:

Toussaint enlisted in the Navy on Jan. 23, 1990, Navy records show, so allowing him to remain on active duty until January will ensure that he receives retirement benefits.

However, Mabus plans to review Toussaint’s case again in a “retirement pay-grade determination” which “has the potential to significantly impact Senior Chief Toussaint’s retirement pay,” Smith said.

Under the 2009 retirement pay schedule, Toussaint will be eligible for about $2,032 in monthly retirement pay as a senior chief. If Mabus opted to reduce him one rank, to E-7, he would receive about $1,850 each month under the 2009 figures; if reduced to E-1, a retired sailor can receive $664 monthly.

(Photo: Sandy Huffaker)