in the navy

Navy Abuse Survivor Joseph Rocha Has a New Pal: Rep. Joe Sestak. And He Wants Answers


Pennsylvania’s U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak wants to know WTF happened in the abuse scandal surrounding Navy sailor Joseph Christopher Rocha, who we first told you about in June. Sestek, a former admiral, told Navy Secretary Raymond Mabus to tell him what he knows about Rocha’s sexual (forced to simulate oral sex) and physical (locked in a feces-laced dog kennel) abuse during his 2005 deployment in Bahrain, which got so bad Rocha turned to the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy as a way to get out of service.

This won’t be the first time the Navy looked at what happened to Rocha: They supposedly “investigated” Rocha’s allegations before. And summarily dismissed them. In fact, the sailors allegedly responsible for the abuse kept their jobs; Rocha’s supervisor Chief Petty Officer Michael Toussaint, who reportedly helped lead the homophobic torment, even got a promotion. And Rep. Sestak wants answers about Toussaint, too.


This is fantastic news. With non-stop media coverage from YouthRadio and involvement from the Palm Center, Rocha’s abuse now has the the attention of not just any U.S. representative, but the House’s highest ranking former military officer; Sestak (pictured), a member of Congress’ Armed Services Committee, is also going after Sen. Arlen Specter’s U.S. Senate seat.

It’s also only the first step, but a meaningful one. They’re coming for you, Toussaint.

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  • J. Clarence

    Rep. Joe Sestak is an amazing Democrat (hopefully he wins the Senate seat in his state); and hopefully he can get something done on this case.

    What happened to Rocha was terrible, and to get kicked out right after too just makes it worse; however, its unlikely that its uncommon. Yet again another display of how DADT needs to go. People get abused and are scared to report it because they will get kicked out.

    Hopefully someone like Ana Marie Cox asks Gibbs about this case at a morning press briefing. I’d like to see how Gibbs gets out of this one, or at least tries to.

  • Bob Lablah

    I was in the army and I say to every gay person who is thinking of joining that DADT be damn, you are joining a non-democratic society to defend democracy.

    I tell everyone point blank, DO NOT JOIN IT. It simply was not set up for openly gay people. If you are a closet case and can hide it, you will have no problem and will find yourself with hundreds of thousands of brothers and sisters amongst you.

    The day you walk out of the closet (or say “no” to the wrong person), watch out “sister”. There is hell to pay and it might just be with your life. You see, in the army during a shooting war, you can be used as cannon fodder and there is nothing you can do about it but hope you come out alive. It is just that plain and simple.

    I agree, it is not fair, but neither is life.

  • Jason

    If anyone can get to the bottom of this, Admiral Sestak can.

  • Elizabeth

    I worked with Rocha and he was not a openly out in front individual. He wasnt even sure he was gay infact. It wasnt till after he left the command and was accepted to OCS that he started to really come to terms with the person he was. Rocha did what he felt was right and in his situation I support his position. He delt with non-stop issues in Bahrain and it affects you and your leadership capabilities. Perticularly if he ever had to work as a supervisor to any of the people who had tormented him. It would just be a no win situation.

    Toussaint needs to be brough to justice and he most deffinitly needs to have the bull stripped away. To many people have talked about how great he is, “look at all he has done” etc. Yes please look at all the cases that have been brought up against this man and swept under the rug not only in Bahrain but at previous commands also. When he ws still a Petty Officer also you will get tons dof great info about his true character. Please take a very good look and recognize a wolf in sheeps clothing. It sickens me to know thisis the type of “Leadership” I’m told to look to as a example of the type of leader I should become.

  • English Teacher

    @Elizabeth: ..and someone needs to learn how to write proper English. You made a great point, but your poor grammar ruined it all.

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