Morse waterbording case: Was he torturing his child to further his research into near death experience? (UPDATED)

Melvin and Pauline Morse waterboarding case: Delaware girl accuses parents of waterboarding her.

A Delaware doctor and his wife were arrested this week after their daughter told authorities that she was punished by “waterboarding,” police said.

The 11-year-old girl told police that her father, pediatrician Melvin Morse, would hold her face under a running faucet causing the water to shoot up her nose, the Delaware State Police said. The punishments happened at least four times over a two-year period and the girl’s mother, Pauline Morse, witnessed some of them and did nothing, police said.

Morse specializes in near-death experiences in children and wrote a book about the subject called “Closer to the Light” in 1991.

The girl said her father said “she could go five minutes without brain damage,” the newspaper reported, citing court documents.

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Besides this HORRIFIC abuse, this story has a sick, other side. Was Morse doing this to further his research into near death experiences?

Possibly. The allegations may point to that, says Ben Radford at Discovery News

A reason for the crime has not been revealed, but details of the allegations suggest a chilling motive: Morse may have been trying to torture his daughter into her own near-death experience.

News reports have focused on the allegation of Morse’s waterboarding as torture — which it certainly is — but it may have simply a means to an end: not to punish his daughter for bad behavior, but instead to deprive her of oxygen without killing her.

Details like these suggest that that Morse was attempting to induce oxygen deprivation in his daughter, which is a common mechanism for creating near-death experiences.

UPDATE (10-Aug-2012) A Washington Post article describes other facets of this case:

An attorney for Dr. Melvin Morse described the waterboarding description as an “attention-getter” by authorities, based on an allegation from an 11-year-old who had made a false abuse claim against a family member before.

Hurley, the attorney, said the 11-year-old has some “opposition issues” and had complained to her parents several years ago about being abused by a half-sibling. He said the parents contacted authorities and the half-sibling was arrested, but that the girl confessed months later that the incident never happened and that she just didn’t want the half-sibling living in the house.

On the same day he was arrested on child endangerment charges July 13, Morse also was charged with terroristic threatening after allegedly threatening in May to kill a 65-year-old man. Hurley said he was told by a deputy attorney general that the terroristic threatening charge, which prosecutors dropped a week after it was filed, involved a New Castle County attorney.

  8 comments for “Morse waterbording case: Was he torturing his child to further his research into near death experience? (UPDATED)

  1. Jill
    August 9, 2012 at 6:29 PM

    Parents worry what strangers might do to their children. I worry about the parents.

  2. August 9, 2012 at 7:15 PM

    And he probably feels its no problem because he believes she is in heaven.

  3. Drivebyposter
    August 9, 2012 at 9:40 PM

    Uh. The girl didn’t die as far as I can tell.

  4. Jauffrey
    August 10, 2012 at 11:52 AM

    There was mention of “oppositional issues” in the update, and a past incident or so of crying wolf, but the claim of waterboarding to induce oxygen deprivation and NDE is quite a bit more believable if the father has written a book on the very subject.

    • Shannon
      August 13, 2012 at 1:48 AM

      I totally agree.

      The past incident was “several years ago”. The girl is currently 11, so several years ago would be a sizable amount of mental development, wouldn’t it? (I know nothing about children.) So she was probably too young to really know the cost of that lie. If it was in fact a lie. She could have been pressured to change her story.

      If a kid is going to accuse her parents of something like this, something is definitely wrong. While it isn’t necessarily the parents, it is believable as you said.

  5. Massachusetts
    August 12, 2012 at 8:19 AM

    Now I don’t know what to think. But it does stress the importance of getting all the facts and proceeding in a thorough way, rather than running with emotions and first impressions.

    Wow, it must have been really scary for the half-sibling to have been arrested and all of that based simply on a false accusation. It reminds us all how vulnerable we are: a simple well-targeted accusation can disrupt and even destroy our lives.

  6. Peebs
    August 13, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    It would seem a lot of this is hearsay.

    I find it hard to believe that an ‘Expert’ in NDE’s would say that the brain can survive for five minutes without oxygen.

    I was taught and it remains a common yardstick, that brain damage is almost inevitable after three minutes O2 deprivation.

    I say almost as some cases of hypothermia, a few patients have survived with few or no ill effects despite prolonged immersion in water.

    • One Eyed Jack
      August 16, 2012 at 8:41 PM

      Brain damage from oxygen deprivation is highly conditional and variable depending on numerous factors. Free divers have gone over 9 minutes on a single breath. TV actors can die within 10 seconds from asphyxiation. ;)

      How long isn’t the important point here. The fact (if it’s true) that the child was tortured is the primary point.

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