Dr. Melvin Morse is expected to make a preliminary court appearance Thursday to face felony child endangerment charges for allegedly using a method of torture to discipline his stepdaughter.
Police say Morse, a Georgetown pediatrician who has researched near-death experiences, may have been experimenting on his 11-year-old stepdaughter by waterboarding her. In documents obtained by the Associated Press Tuesday, police said Dr. Melvin Morse brought the girl “to a possible near-death state from the simulation of drowning.” The victim’s mother, Pauline Morse, is also facing child endangerment charges for witnessing some of the incidents, but not stopping it.
Police accuse Morse of holding the girl’s face under a running faucet causing the water to go up her nose and all over her face. In an affidavit seeking permission to search Morse’s computers, police say the waterboarding would fall into his area of study. Morse has received nationwide attention for his research into near-death experiences involving children.
Based on his work involving children’s out-of-body experiences, police have suggested he may have been experimenting on his daughter. In a review of one of his books by the American Library Association’s Booklist, Morse’s knowledge about the subject is accredited to “years of working with children who have had near-death experiences.”
Joe Hurley is an attorney for Morse. He says the idea that Morse was experimenting on his own daughter is “the sheerest of speculation.” Morse has said the charges against him stem from an overreaction by authorities.
Court records show Morse was tormented by personal and financial problems, but he was also known as a brilliant pediatrician at a renowned children’s hospital in Seattle and a best-selling author who parlayed his research on near-death experiences into appearances on “Larry King Live” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”