The trial for a former doctor from Delaware who is accused of torturing his stepdaughter began Tuesday. Melvin Morse, 60, is accused of using several methods to torture his stepdaughter, including waterboarding. Morse, who denies the allegations, is a well-known pediatrician and author who has appeared on Larry King Live and The Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss his research on near-death experiences involving kids.
According to the prosecutor in the waterboarding case, Morse has terrorized his daughter for years. “The defendant controlled every single aspect of that child’s life, including whether she had the right to draw breath,” deputy attorney general Melanie Withers told jurors.
Morse was first arrested in July of 2012 on misdemeanor charges of assault and endangering the welfare of a child after a neighbor reported Morse. He allegedly made the girl stay in a hot car for five hours and later dragged her across gravel. The girl went to a neighbor’s house the next day and the neighbor called the police and took her to the hospital. Morse told police that he didn’t really drag her across the gravel, but that he was attempting to carry her while she had a temper tantrum and dropped her.
The former doctor was released on bail on the misdemeanor charge, only to be arrested the next month on felony charges of child endangerment. Morse’s then 11-year-old stepdaughter told authorities that Morse had waterboarded her multiple times since 2009.
Joseph Hurley, Morse’s attorney, said that the waterboarding accusation is a misunderstanding. Hurley says that Morse was simply washing the girl’s hair, something she didn’t like, and insists “there was no water on her face cutting off her breath.” The defense attorney also maintains that there are too many inaccuracies in the girl’s story to believe her. As an example, Hurley provided a time in 2010 when the girl told Delaware Family Services that her “dad and mom are good people.”
The girl also says that Morse would sometimes force-feed her until she vomited and would refuse to allow her to use the bathroom, which would result in her wetting herself. Pauline Morse, the girl’s mother, has agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor child endangerment charges and plans to testify against Morse during the trial.
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