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By Rachel Krantz and the Youth Radio Investigative Unit
This story is part of Youth Radio's investigation: Sailors' Abuse Kept Silent In Navy Canine Unit.
After Youth Radio broke the story last month on widespread hazing in a Bahrain canine unit, the Chief of Naval Operations has completed reviewing how officials handled an investigation into the abuse. He found that the chief petty officer responsible for the abuse had not been adequately punished.
As a result of the top-level Navy review of misconduct in a canine unit in Bahrain, the Secretary of the Navy has censured the unit’s former chief petty officer, Michael Toussaint, forcing him to retire from the Navy.
Previously, an investigation into the hazing at the base in Bahrain between 2004 and 2006 revealed widespread abuse of sailors and other misconduct, including gambling and soliciting prostitutes. On September 22, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead ordered Navy Installations Command (CNIC) to review what actions were taken as a result of the hazing investigation.
"After reviewing the investigation and the CNIC report, Admiral Roughead found the incidents were not in keeping with Navy values and standards and violated Navy’s long standing prohibition against hazing," said Navy spokesperson Commander Elissa Smith.
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.
Roughead has also ordered the Naval Criminal Investigative Service to interview commissioned officers who served in Bahrain at the time of the hazing. Previously, a navy spokesman said the investigation report had indicated that two commissioned officers might have had knowledge of the hazing events. The spokesman told Youth Radio neither officer was recommended for disciplinary action.
Joseph Christopher Rocha served in the unit and experienced some of the worst abuse at while under Toussaint’s leadership. The 23-year-old said many of his fellow sailors have mixed feelings about the results of Roughead's review.
"A lot of us are disappointed in that Toussaint won’t see his day at a military court martial," Rocha said. "But overall, I commend the CNO and the Secretary of the Navy for a wanting to look further into this, to see how widespread the corruption was."