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Del. doctor gets 3 years in waterboarding case

Doctors Daughter Waterboarding

GEORGETOWN, Del. (AP) -- A judge sentenced a former pediatrician known for research on paranormal science and near-death experiences involving children to three years in prison Friday for waterboarding the daughter of his longtime companion by holding the girl's head under a faucet.

The judge ordered Melvin Morse, 60, to serve two years on probation after completing the prison term. Morse also received concurrent sentences of probation for other charges of endangering and assault.

Judge Richard Stokes rejected a request for leniency from defense attorney Joe Hurley, who said Morse has prostate cancer and likely will need thyroid surgery.

"His medical needs will be addressed in prison," said Stokes, who said Morse deserved more than the presumptive 15-month sentence for felony reckless endangering.

Before being sentenced, Morse, 60 turned to the girl, now 12, and apologized.

"I am so sorry. I am so sorry," he told her as she clutched at the chest of her foster mother. "None of this is your fault ... and I hope that one day you can forgive me."

The girl and her mother testified Morse used waterboarding as a threat or punishment, but defense attorneys suggested "waterboarding" was a term jokingly used by Morse to describe hair washing. Waterboarding as used by trained interrogators on terror suspects simulates drowning. Many critics call it torture.

Morse, whose medical license was suspended after his arrest and has since expired, wrote 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 he may have been experimenting on the girl.

"The idea that the defendant was experimenting on (the girl) is speculative, and I see his actions differently," said the judge, who described Morse as controlling and manipulative in his abuse of a vulnerable child.

The girl fled her home and went to a classmate's house in July 2012, the morning after Morse grabbed her by an ankle and dragged her across a driveway into the family home, where she was spanked and warned of worse punishment the next day. When investigators questioned her, she told them about what she called waterboarding.

The girl's foster mother and chief trial prosecutor Melanie Withers did a brief victory dance after the sentencing.

"It totally vindicates her, and that's what this has all been about," Withers said of the sentence.

Hurley said he planned to appeal to the Supreme Court on rulings regarding Morse's health and a decision by Stokes to allow jurors to review tapes of interviews the girl and her sister gave to authorities. The tapes already had been shown at trial.

During the trial, Withers portrayed Morse as a brutal "lord and master" of his household, abusing the girl for years. Prosecutors said the abuse included waterboarding, forcing the girl to stand with arms outstretched for hours at a time, confining her to room and alternately depriving her of food or force feeding her. The felony conviction came after the girl said she was waterboarded for vomiting into a cat's litter box after being forced to drink too much milk.

Cathy Rose, a therapist who has been working with the girl, read a letter Friday in court in which the girl said Morse deserved to be behind bars.

"He needs to feel what it's like to be a prisoner," the letter read. "I was a prisoner at home with him."

Pediatrician Convicted of Waterboarding Young Girl

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ELEANOR DEMARZO April 12 2014 at 11:31 AM


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ohioh111b111y April 12 2014 at 10:12 AM

If he wanted to know about waterboarding, why didnt he have some big brutey MAN do it to him?
he would be better equipped to describe what was happening than a child who could barely speak MUCH LESS GO TELL ON HIM>

He was given FAR too lenient a sentence.

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1 reply
Hello Dear!! ohioh111b111y April 12 2014 at 10:26 AM

I have often thought that women, children and dogs get the scraps in a courtroom. Now IF the victim was a ceo of a company, different story. Actually waterboarding some ceo's of some companies is not such a bad idea! JUST KIDDING==

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jim April 12 2014 at 10:08 AM

A degree, certificate on the wall does not make you a good human being, this applies to all vocations. I spent 10 years in medicine in a teaching learning environment,5 to 7 years. We put to much faith in professional opinion, they are men and women from society and prone to the same dark weakness as any other group. Choose wisely.

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bighope78 April 12 2014 at 9:53 AM

Three years is not long enough. He needs a mental health assessment to make sure he is fit to be apart of society after his prison sentence and to make sure he gets stabalized on medication or whatever it takes before he is released. He is obviously a very sick individual. I am so glad his license to practice as a physician has been suspended, it is scarey to think this man ever took care of children. I have goose bumps right now just thinking about it.

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tdiplaci April 12 2014 at 9:52 AM

First of all I do not in any way condone "concurrent" service of sentences. Each crime has a punishment and each punishment should be served separately. Also this moron should be taken to a military base and waterboarded once a month for the duration of his sentence so he can study it first hand.

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elkhartbiker April 12 2014 at 9:43 AM

Just shows there's kooks and idiots in all professions.

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vallontina April 12 2014 at 9:37 AM

Sick bastard! Just because a person is a doctor doesn't mean they can't think up ridiculous things to do to satisfy their own wierd interests. My son needed surgery on his knee when he was 14 and one doctor I consulted said after the knee was fixed, he wanted to extract bone marrow from my son's hip and inject it into the sight where his knee bone had been drilled because supposedly it would make the bone heal quicker. I told him NO and he got all indignant. Consulted a few more doctors before settling on the right one and no other one even thought that doctor's idea had any merit. No way was my son going to be an experiment or unnecessary bone marrow donor.

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rdavidsonagency April 12 2014 at 9:31 AM

This nut needs to be put away for way longer then 3 years!

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1 reply
njenel rdavidsonagency April 12 2014 at 9:56 AM


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dt2211 April 12 2014 at 9:23 AM

Light of day he should never see. What a sicko !!

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mbrheljr April 12 2014 at 9:22 AM

Sick man. Three years in prison and two years of "probation" don't begin to protect society from this guy...

Flag Reply +6 rate up
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