GEORGETOWN, Del. - A former Delaware pediatrician has been sentenced to three years in prison for waterboarding the daughter of his longtime companion by holding her head under a faucet.
A judge also sentenced Melvin Morse, 60, to probation on Friday for other charges related to the then-11-year-old girl's abuse. Morse was charged with three felones, one for waterboarding and one for suffocation by hand, after the girl ran away in July 2012 and told authorities of the abuse she had suffered.
Morse, whose medical license was suspended after his arrest, has written several books and articles on paranormal science and near-death experiences involving children. He has appeared on shows such as "Larry King Live" and the "The Oprah Winfrey Show" to discuss his research, which also has been featured on an episode of "Unsolved Mysteries" and in an article in "Rolling Stone" magazine. Morse denied police claims that he may have been experimenting on the girl, now 12.,
The girl's mother, Pauline Morse, 41, pleaded guilty last year to misdemeanor endangerment charges and testified against Melvin Morse.
Pauline Morse and her daughter testified that Melvin Morse used waterboarding as a threat or a form of punishment. Waterboarding as used in the past by U.S. interrogators on terror suspects simulates drowning. Many critics call it torture.
According to testimony, the allegations of waterboarding surfaced after the girl ran away. She went to a classmate's home the morning after Morse grabbed her by the ankle and dragged her across a gravel driveway into the home, where she was spanked and warned of worse punishment the next day. When investigators questioned the girl, she told them about what she called waterboarding.Defense attorneys said "waterboarding" was a term jokingly used to describe hair washing.
The girl and her younger sister remain in foster care but are allowed supervised visits with Pauline Morse. Pauline Morse said she hoped her cooperation with prosecutors will bolster her chances of being reunited with her daughters.
Melvin Morse's attorney had asked the judge for mercy, saying his client is suffering from prostate cancer and other health conditions. But prosecutors said Morse deserved prison time for years of emotional and physical abuse of the girl.
Before he was sentenced, Morse turned to the girl, apologized and told her he hopes that one day she can forgive him.