(DOVER, Del.) — A Delaware pediatrician who writes about near-death experiences of children and has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show is accused of waterboarding his 11-year-old daughter for two years, according to Delaware State Police.
Dr. Melvin Morse, 58, and his wife Pauline, 40, were arrested Tuesday, a day after their daughter told a child advocate that her father had “waterboarded” her four times between May 2009 and May 2011 while her mother watched and did nothing to stop the abuse, Cpl. Gary Fournier told ABC News.
Delaware’s Child Advocacy Center first became aware of the girl, whose name has not been disclosed, following a July 12 incident in which Morse was charged with third-degree assault for allegedly pulling his daughter out of a car, dragging her across a gravel driveway and spanking her in their Sussex County home, Fournier said.
The girl reported that incident to a neighbor who called police, Fournier said. Morse was later released from custody after he posted $750 in bail.
She later told the child advocate about the alleged waterboarding, police said, triggering the parents’ arrest on Tuesday.
The Morses each face two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, a second-degree felony conspiracy charge and four counts of felony first-degree reckless endangering for the alleged waterboarding incidents.
As a method of disciplining his daughter, Morse held her face under a running faucet, causing the water to go up her nose, Fournier said.
Melvin Morse is the author of two books on near-death experiences, Closer to the Light and Transformed by the Light. He appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and Larry King Live in 2010 to discuss his research on the psychological effects of being on the verge of death.
Melvin Morse’s attorney, Joe Hurley, said he did not yet know enough about the case to comment on it, but said, “There is always another side to the story.”
The Morses’ daughter and her 5-year-old sister are in the care of the state’s Division of Family Services. Their parents have been ordered not to have contact with each other or their children. Pauline Morse was released from Sussex Correctional Institute on $14,500 unsecured bail and could not be reached for comment.
Her husband is also being held there on $14,500 secured bond. Jason Miller, a spokesman for the Delaware attorney general’s office, said the state issued an emergency petition to suspend Morse’s medical license Wednesday.
The Morses will appear in court next week for a preliminary hearing.
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