A Delaware pediatrician and his wife were arrested after their 11-year-old daughter told police she was punished by “waterboarding,” according to a Delaware State Police news release.
On July 12, authorities said they received a 911 call from a neighbor of Dr. Melvin Morse and his wife Pauline Morse, after their 11-year-old daughter ran to the neighbor and said her father grabbed her by the ankle, dragged her across a gravel driveway and began spanking her, police said.
Morse was charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, and one count of third-degree assault. He was released from jail after posting a $750 bond.
After his arrest, authorities said they began investigating into Morse’s alleged abuse of his daughter. During an interview with the 11-year-old girl, police said she told them that over a two year period, her father disciplined her by what he called “waterboarding,” according to the news release.
The 11-year-old girl told police her father held her “face under a running faucet causing the water to go up her nose and all over her face,” authorities said. The punishment happened at least four times, according to the girl, and her mother witnessed a few of the incidents and did nothing to stop the abuse, police said.
According to court documents cited by The News Journal, the girl told authorities her father once said he “was going to wrap her in a blanket and do it so that she could not move.” Morse allegedly told his daughter “she could go five minutes without brain damage,” the newspaper reported, citing court documents.
Dr. Melvin Morse and his wife Pauline Morse are both facing charges of reckless endangerment, conspiracy and endangering the welfare of a child. Morse is currently being held at the Sussex Correctional Institution after failing to post a $14,500 bond. His wife, Pauline Morse, was released on a $14,500 unsecured bail and was ordered to have no contact with either her husband or children, according to police.
Morse, who specializes in near-death experiences in children, wrote a book about the subject called “Closer to Light” in 1991. James Collins, from the Delaware Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline told HLN’s Nancy Grace they are “currently in the process of an emergency suspension of his medical license.”
“Whatever this word [waterboarding] came from, it ain’t what happened,” Joe Hurley, Melvin Morse’s attorney told HLN’s Nancy Grace. When the State brings these charges, they want to attract attention. Had they said he had allegedly poured water in her face…it doesn’t carry that 911 bang of waterboarding. [The charges] sound bizarre to me.”
HLN reached out to the attorney for Pauline Morse, but calls were not returned.
The 11-year-old girl and her 6-year-old sister are currently being cared for by the local Division of Family Services, according to authorities. Master Corporal Gary E. Fournier from the Delaware State Police told HLN there are no allegations of abuse against the victims’ 6-year-old sister.