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Well-known near-death experience researcher Melvin Morse, convicted two months ago of ‘waterboarding’ his step-daughter by holding her head under a faucet, has been sentenced to three years prison by the judge presiding over the case. Shockingly, given the details of the case, Morse was a former pediatrician (his licence was revoked) who had become famous for his research into the near-death experiences of children. This had led some to speculate that the abuse of the child was an attempt at inducing an NDE, though ultimately the judge disagreed on that count:

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.

…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.

Beyond the sad tale of abuse in this case, where does this leave Morse’s body of research on the NDE? Should it be disregarded on moral grounds simply because it is the work of a convicted child abuser, or perhaps more cogently because – in a field that leans heavily on personal testimony – this throws doubt on his honesty and integrity? I for one would find it difficult to cite any of his research in future, for the latter reasoning, unless the details could be corroborated via another source.