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Near Death Experience Researcher Arrested for ‘Waterboarding’ Child

Dr Melvin Morse, well-known for his research and books on the topic of near-death experiences in children, was arrested on Tuesday along with his wife, on charges related to the alleged ‘water-boarding’ of their 11-year-old daughter.

Morse was originally arrested last month after a neighbour reported he grabbed the 11-year-old girl, who is his step-daughter, by the ankle and dragged her across a gravel driveway, taking her inside to spank her. After being released on bail, he was arrested again this week after detectives interviewed the girl at the local Child Advocacy Center, where she had told them that her father had “disciplined her by what he called “waterboarding” — holding the daughter’s face under running water, causing the water to fill her nostrils and over her face”, while her mother watched on.

The daughter told police she “could never understand what she did to be punished” and felt scared, court documents reported. Once, she said, her father told her he “was going to wrap her in a blanket and do it so that she could not move.” In another instance, she said Melvin Morse told her that “she could go five minutes without brain damage.”

“Melvin would sometimes look away while he did it and (redacted) would become afraid that he would lose track of time and she would die,” police wrote in court documents.

…After her father did these things, the girl said she would “go outside and cry,” prompting Melvin Morse to come outside and then “hold her nose and mouth with his hand,” police said in court records.

“He would tell her she was lucky he did not use duct tape,” police said in the documents. “He would not let go until she lost feeling and collapsed to the ground.”

The girl’s younger sister was also interviewed and told social workers she saw this happen to her sister, but that “it has never been done to her because she is too young for it.”

The Delaware Attorney General’s Office has since filed a motion for the emergency suspension of Morse’s medical license, while the children are now in the care of the Division of Family Services.

One leading skeptic, Ben Radford, has suggested that Morse’s use of oxygen deprivation as a ‘punishment’ may have been an attempt on his part to induce a near-death experience in his step-daughter.

These charges, making news around the world, certainly throw a dark shadow over the pediatrician’s pioneering work on near-death experience accounts by children, as recounted in books such as Closer to the Light.

Update: This Washington Post article quotes Morse’s attorney as saying the daughter has previously made false reports about abuse (at that time, a half-sibling). Please remember this is still an untried case at this time, so it’s difficult to come to many conclusions at this early stage.

(via @DoubtfulNews and @Daniel_Loxton)

  1. For what it’s worth:
    two quick points…….

    1.) Innocent until proven guilty. If I was defending these parents, I’d certainly attack the daughter in this case, especially in light of the information that she’s made false allegations before. Without physical prove, some sort of corroboration, it’s a terrible situation pitting a child against a parent, but one that must be resolved upon actual evidence, and not innuendo, baseless allegations, etc. Not accusing anyone here of that, far from it in fact. But I’ve seen this sort of thing played out with a neighbor and it can get quite ugly quite quickly.

    2.) I’ve been waterboarded. I don’t know anyone who could last more than 30 seconds without giving up their own grandparents to stop it. What the parent(s) are alleged to have done isn’t waterboarding. It’s reprehensible IF TRUE, but we’re a long way from that at this point.


  2. From A Severly Abused Child!

    Nobody is guilty until proven guilty. But, it is very easy for manipulative adults to make it appear that a child is making false statemants. People investigating child molestation in the Roman Catholic Church will tell you the same thing. Ask Sister Grail and see what she says. Any of the above, myself included, will tell you that the child is almost always telling the truth. In any case, they are innocent; because, they have not been proven guilty. Generally speaking, however, I think that Drawing and Quartering is too good for child molesters!

  3. This whole innocent until
    This whole innocent until proven guilty only applies to the legal aspect of the law. It does not apply to people’s opinions or judgments. It too often gets misinterpreted that everyone must be given the benefit of doubt no matter how reprehensible their acts – take the Casey Anthony case for example. I think most everyone is convinced of her guilt, yet she was acquitted by a jury who demanded such a high level of proof they acquitted her.

    Of course false allegations occur and people do get wrongly accused or convicted destroying their reputation and lives. Take the case of Crystal Mangum, the woman who falsely accused several Duke University lacrosse team players of rape five years ago… Nevertheless the point remains – the innocent until proven guilty does not disallow individuals to form opinions and make them known. The ideal is that regardless of which side the person is on, they remain open and willing to modify their opinion as further facts develop rather than remaing steadfast out of pride – as so many do…

    If this guy did these things – he is scum and deserves the full wrath of the law and in my dream world – the old eye for an eye justice.

    1. Nietzsche’s Breakdown: Insanity or Brilliance?

      How many men of intellectual accomplishment have there been who have experienced ” breakdowns” intellectual, moral, nervous, whatever? To what extent do we allow this to color our perceptions of their work? May I repeat that going off on titillating tangents like this is not very useful or productive, and history has repeatedly shown that the value of a person’s work should be regarded independently of the personal life and all its vagaries and pitfalls. Hemingway blew his brains out which fact has absolutely no bearing on the value of his work unless you think he blew his brains out because of his work in which case you would be speculating circularly until the cows come home.

      1. And yet…….

        And yet he still blew his brains out. At least some of them, anyway.

        I’ve always suspected it had more to do with critics and High School English Literature teachers and their inane questions and comments than anything else. I haven’t written much of value, but having worked in theater, TV and film, I can fully understand the desire to just off oneself rather than deal with the vapid and inane chattering class that inhabits the opinion pages of anything in print.

        I need another bottle of bourbon. Sigh.

      2. I Agree With You!

        A person’s work and a person’s private life should be evaluated independently!

        Changing the subject, I love Nietzsche! I think in Nietzsche’s writing we can get a sense of the relationship between his genius and the fine line between sanity and insanity. In my opinion, which is based on Nietzsche’s writings, Nietzsche spent much of his life stradling the fine line between sanity and insanity!

  4. from the Tom-Bedlam-Dept.
    That’s the problem with Initiation nowadays–you can’t ‘murder’ (killing people’s old habits/selves to become new — usually, by convicing someone that they are dying/going to be killed) anyone anymore…which makes it hard for occulty types…*waggles eyebrows*

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