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Report leaked on Navy suicide

NORFOLK, Va., Oct. 9 (UPI) -- A report on a female sailor who took her own life amid a scandal involving hazing in the U.S. Navy dog-handling unit in Bahrain became public this week.

Youth Radio, a California journalism organization that broke the story of the hazing, posted the report on its Web site, The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot said.

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Petty Officer 1st Class Jennifer Valdivia, 27, committed suicide in Virginia in 2007. The report said she feared she might be held responsible for abuses in the unit.

Valdivia had been second in command to Chief Petty Officer Michael Toussaint and succeeded him when he left the unit. Sailors who served in Bahrain say Toussaint was the chief instigator of hazing that ranged from forcing sailors to eat dog treats to making them perform simulated sexual acts on so-called training videos.

Toussaint has since been promoted.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Jake Wilburn, who received a dishonorable discharge, told the newspaper he felt as though he became a scapegoat. He said Valdivia failed to stop the hazing after Toussaint's departure.

"Once he left, everybody had been used to being ruled by fear and intimidation," Wilburn said. "She didn't know how to lead any other way. Everybody completely walked all over her, and she just lost control. No one paid her respect, so she tried to overcompensate.

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