GEORGETOWN, Del.- State officials granted an emergency suspension of the medical license of a Sussex County pediatrician accused of waterboarding his daughter.
Delaware's secretary of state and the president of the board of medical licensure and discipline signed the order Thursday based on pending criminal charges against Dr. Melvin Morse, 58, of Georgetown.
Delaware State Police said Morse waterboarded his daughter, 11, several times over a two year period at their home near Georgetown. Morse is charged with reckless endangerment, conspiracy and endangering the welfare of a child.
Morse's wife, Pauline, is facing the same charges. Court records state Pauline watched the waterboarding take place and took no action to stop it.
Some consider waterboarding a form of torture. The practice involves forcing water down a person's nose and mouth to create a drowning-like experience. Waterboarding was the subject of national discussion in recent years as U.S. leaders debated whether the practice should be used to interrogate terrorism suspects overseas.
Morse did not respond to the request for an emergency suspension on the license, according to the board's order. Parents said the pediatrician had previously practiced at several locations in Sussex County; however, court records listed Morse's employer as "disabled." His Delaware medical license has no restrictions or disciplinary actions and is set to expire in 2013, according to an online search at the Division of Professional Regulation.
The suspension will remain in place until a hearing can be held, said Dr. Stephen Cooper, president of the board of medical licensure, in a statement.
Morse is known around the country for his research on near-death experiences in children. The pediatrician is a published author and has appeared on national television to discuss the topic.
According to court records, police said Morse would sometimes look away during the waterboarding and the victim "would become afraid that he would lose track of time and she would die." The girl said Morse told her "that she could go five minutes without brain damage," the records state.
In court documents, the girl "described that it hurt real bad and she would try to move her head to breathe and get out of his hands but was unsuccessful each time."
On one occasion, court records said Morse told the victim "he was going to wrap her in a blanket and do it so she could not move."
The practice took place under the faucet in the kitchen sink, bathroom sink and bathtub between 2009 and 2011, the records said. State police said they began investigating after they were informed Morse dragged the child across a gravel driveway at their Georgetown home in July, 2012.
No one answered the door at the home on Thursday afternoon.
The victim and her sister, 5, are currently in the care of the Division of Family Services, police said.
The next step in the judicial process for the couple will be a preliminary hearing in the Sussex County Court of Common Pleas, said Delaware Department of Justice spokesman Jason Miller. A date has not yet been set.
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