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Honourable exit for navy official.

A FORMER Bahrain-based US Navy official at the centre of allegations of abuse against a gay sailor during his time here is to be honourably discharged with full pay, according to reports.

Chief petty officer Michael Toussaint was accused of viciously hazing a gay sailor under his command at the Navy Support Activity (NSA) Bahrain base in Juffair between 2004 and 2006.

However, according to newspaper reports in the US the navy stated that charges brought against Senior Chief Master-at-Arms Toussaint were exaggerated. This, coupled with his previous good service record, has led to him being discharged with full pay grade.

The Salt Lake Tribune has described the decision as a "partial exoneration" for Toussaint, but a disappointment for the man who accused him, former third class PO Joseph Rocha.

PO Rocha worked at the Military Working Dog (MWD) Division NSA Bahrain between 2005 and 2006.

During that time, he claimed he was the subject of several incidents of hazing, such as being locked in a faeces-filled dog kennel and being forced by his superior to simulate sex acts on fellow trainers.

Mr Rocha left the US Navy in 2007, after he told his commander he was gay, in violation of the US Navy's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. He was subsequently diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

A US Navy investigation into alleged hazing at the MWD Unit led to the publication of a 22-page report in October 2009.

The report identified 87 incidents of hazing in the unit between 2005 and 2006, including claims of sailors being duct-taped to chairs, forced to bark like dogs as well as physical, sexual and racial abuse.

The US Navy defines hazing as "any conduct whereby a military member or members, regardless of service or rank, without proper authority causes another military member or members, regardless of service or rank, to suffer or be exposed to any activity which is cruel, abusive, humiliating, oppressive, demeaning or harmful".

When contacted, NSA Bahrain referred the GDN to the Navy Office of Information News Desk in the US.

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Geographic Code:7BAHR
Date:Feb 27, 2011
Words:355
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