The pediatrician is alleged to have held his daughter's face under a running faucet, causing water to go up her nose. The doctor's wife also faces charges.
Dr. Melvin Morse, 58, came to the attention of the Delaware State Police on July 12. At that time the girl alleges her father dragged her by the ankle across the family's driveway and then took her into the house and spanked her. The girl told a neighbour who contacted police. NBC Philadelphia reports Morse was charged four days later with assault and endangering the life of the child. He was released from custody on $750 bail.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports the girl was interviewed by detectives this past Monday at the Child Advocacy Center. She told authorities that her father punished her by what he called "waterboarding." Her head would be held under an open faucet in the kitchen or bathroom and running water would go all over her face and up her nose. The little girl said this happened four times, the first occasion being in May 2009.
The News Journal reports the girl said on one occasion, her father threatened to wrap her in a blanket so she could not move while he waterboarded her. Another time he allegedly told her she could be waterboarded for up five minutes without suffering brain damage. In addition to what was happening to her, the girl became afraid her dad would lose track of time.
Lawrence J. Korb, an assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, told The News Journal that what Morse allegedly did is the same as what the CIA did. He said, "But the purpose of it is you will do anything to stop in because it's so horrible."
Korb also said it would be terrifying for a child who cannot breathe and does not fully understand what is happening. He added, "Psychologically, it could have lasting damage on the poor kid."
The 11-year-old also told officers her mother was present some of the times she was waterboarded but did nothing to prevent or stop what was happening. Melvin and Pauline were arrested at their home the following day.
The Sussex Countian reports both parents were charged with four counts of reckless endangerment in the first degree and two counts of endangering the life of a child. Pauline was released on a $14,500 unsecured bond while Melvin was remanded to the Sussex Correctional Institution after a $14,500 secured bond was ordered.
Conditions were placed on the couple that they are to have no contact with each other, the 11-year-old, or her 5-year-old sister.
CNN reports Dr. Morse is the author of the 1991 book, Closer to the Light, that deals with the near-death experiences of children and was interviewed about the book by Larry King on the network's Larry King Live.
The 11-year-old and her sister are now in the care of Delaware's Division of Family Services.