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Melvin Morse, pediatrician accused of 'waterboarding' daughter, may have been experimenting, cops say

Melvin L. Morse AP Photo/Delaware State Police

Melvin L. Morse
AP Photo/Delaware State Police

(CBS/AP) DOVER, Del. - Melvin Morse, a pediatrician who achieved national recognition for his research into near-death experiences involving children, may have been experimenting on his 11-year-old stepdaughter by "waterboarding" her, police said in court documents.

The possible link between Morse's research and the waterboarding allegations was revealed in an affidavit for a search warrant for Morse's computers, obtained by the Associated Press.

According to the affidavit, Morse brought the girl "to a possible near-death state from the simulation of drowning."

"This 'waterboarding' that he has performed...would fall into the area of study he practices," police said in the affidavit. "It is logical that he has therefore written about and/or researched to topic of 'waterboarding.'"

Joe Hurley, an attorney for Morse, called the idea that Morse was experimenting on his daughter "the sheerest of speculation."

Morse, who faces a preliminary hearing Thursday on felony child endangerment and conspiracy charges, has written several books and articles on paranormal science and near-death experiences. He has appeared on "Larry King Live" and "The Oprah Winfrey Show" to discuss his research on out-of-body experiences.

Morse told the Associated Press in an interview Monday that the charges against him were an overreaction from authorities who were criticized after a child sex-abuse scandal involving another pediatrician, Earl Bradley, who was convicted a year ago and is serving 14 life sentences for sexually abusing scores of his patients.

The allegations of waterboarding came after Morse was accused of grabbing his 11-year-old stepdaughter by the ankle in July and, as her 6-year-old sister watched, dragging her across a gravel driveway. He was arrested July 13 on misdemeanor endangerment and assault charges and released on bail.

When the older girl was interviewed last week, she told investigators that her father had disciplined her by hold her face under a running faucet at least four times since 2009, a punishment that she said he called "waterboarding."

Court records also show that Morse struggled with financial problems and wrestled with depression, substance abuse and even suicidal thoughts.

Both Melvin and his wife Pauline Morse, who was also arrested in connection to the incident, are free on bail.

They face a preliminary hearing Thursday on felony endangerment and conspiracy charges.

More on CrimesiderAugust 9, 2012 - Melvin Morse, Delaware pediatrician, accused of 'waterboarding' his daughter

  • Crimesider Staff

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