Hazing News

Navy’s Michael Toussaint keeps rank: Bahraine canine unit hazing

Excerpt from Youth Radio

By Charlie Foster

An assistant secretary of the Navy upheld the forced retirement of a senior chief accused of hazing junior sailors in a canine unit based in Bahrain.

The decision comes four years after a Navy investigation in which sailors claimed Michael Toussaint, a chief petty officer at the time, had acted as ringleader for a culture of abuse within the kennel between 2005 and 2006. Last February, Toussaint denied much of his alleged misconduct before a retirement review board that was convened months after he was censured by the Secretary of the Navy.
“Ultimately, MACS Toussaint’s conduct as the Leading Chief Petty Officer assigned to the Military Working Dog Division, Naval Security Forces, Bahrain, did not meet the standards expected of senior enlisted leadership in our Navy,” said Juan Garcia, assistant secretary of the Navy for manpower and reserve affairs.

Garcia followed the paygrade recommendation of the retirement board, which said Toussaint should receive an honorable discharge and a pension at his current rank. The board members cited insufficient evidence uncovered in the Navy’s hazing investigation and a 2009 tour of duty in Afghanistan during which he saved the life of a marine.

“[W]hen looking at his career in its entirety,” said Garcia, “I have determined that his conduct did not rise to a level sufficient to warrant retirement in a paygrade less than E-8.”

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. In April of 2024, the Alaska Press Club awarded him first place in the Best Columnist division and Best Humorist, second place.

He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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