Congressman calls for more information about abused US Navy sailor’s case
Democratic Representative Joe Sestak, a retired US Navy Rear Admiral, has called for an investigation into the case of the abused gay sailor John Rocha.
In an attempt to escape the abuse, Rocha, a former Petty Officer Third Class, told his superiors he was gay, resulting in a discharge under the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ rule governing homosexuality in the Navy.
Sestak’s letter to Raymond Mabus, Navy secretary, on 11th September called for an investigation into the case, including the reasons why one of Rocha’s abusers was promoted when superiors knew of the activities.
Since the initial investigation, the Navy has promoted Chief Michael Toussaint, who was the petty officer in charge of the unit, to the rank of Senior Chief. According to official documents, most of the abuse was perpetrated or presided over by him.
However, the investigation documents released under the US Freedom of Information Act has all recommendations redacted.
Rocha had been assigned to a military dog unit in Bahrain where the alleged abuses included being forced to simulate oral sex, and being bound and trapped in a kennel.
Sestak’s letter continued: “When a man or woman puts on a military uniform, he or she immediately assumes a commonality of purpose with all fellow service members.”
“Failing to treat everyone with the same level of dignity and allowing acts of assault or battery to go unaddressed, would be counter to not only our national values, but to the concept of brotherhood and sisterhood that I learned is so essential to — and such a key part of — the spirit of our armed forces.”
Of Rocha, who now suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, he wrote: “Prior to his time in Bahrain, Petty Officer Rocha had graduated at the top of his military class and served his country honorably as a military police officer. He received favorable performance evaluations throughout his career.”
The US Navy has since announced it will be investigating Rocha’s case, with a Navy spokesman, Commander Cappy Surette, saying: “The incidents that occurred within the Military Working Dog Division at Naval Support Activity Bahrain do not reflect who we are as a Navy.”