Man accused of 'waterboarding' daughter was on TV shows

Melvin Morse
Melvin Morse
Posted: August 10, 2012

The Delaware father of five children who was arrested Tuesday after a punishment his 11-year-old daughter said he called "waterboarding" is an internationally known pediatrician who specializes in so-called near-death experiences.

Melvin Morse, who has written several books on children and near-death experiences, has appeared on numerous TV shows, including those of Oprah Winfrey and Larry King as well as 20/20 and Good Morning America to talk about his research.

Delaware state troopers have charged Morse, 58, with multiple felony counts of endangering the welfare of a child after the girl told social workers about her father's punishments.

Morse is the main author of Closer to the Light: Learning from the Near-Death Experiences of Children, which is additionally subtitled Amazing Revelations of What It Feels Like to Die.

On his website,, he expounds on the "gaseous vapor theory of the soul."

State police said the girl told investigators that Morse held her face under a running faucet, causing water to flood up her nose and keep her from breathing. The girl said Morse called it "waterboarding." Police said they did not know why he acted in that manner, but said the girl's mother witnessed several of the incidents and did not stop them.

Social workers had scheduled an interview Monday as a follow-up to Morse's arrest in July in an alleged attack on the girl.

Morse and his wife were arrested at their Georgetown home, held on $14,500 bail each, and forbidden to have any contact with the 11-year-old and her 5-year-old sister. The girls are in the care of the state's Division of Family Services, police said.

Morse wrote in his book that his interest in near-death experiences developed after he met a little girl who had been discovered at the bottom of a YMCA swimming pool. The girl, who recovered, said she had met God during the incident and drew pictures of people she met in heaven.

The book includes the following:

I asked her an open-ended question: 'What do you remember about being in the swimming pool?'

'You mean when I visited the Heavenly Father,' she replied.

'Whoa!' I thought. That's a good place to start. 'Tell me about meeting the Heavenly Father.'

'I met Jesus and the Heavenly Father,' she said.

Morse later organized a study at Seattle Children's Hospital of 26 children who reported they had "nearly died" and claimed 23 of the 26 had told him they had near-death experiences.

Waterboarding is a torture technique used by the CIA on suspected terrorists. It was outlawed in 2009 by President Obama.

According to, the 11-year-old said her father told her "she could go five minutes without brain damage."

Morse's biography describes him as a "best-selling" author named in "Best Doctors in America" as one of the nation's top pediatricians. It quotes a TV station as saying he had "done more to prove the existence of life after death than any other scientist."

On his website, he claims to be on the teaching staff of the School of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania. A spokesman for Penn said the school had no record of his teaching there.

Contact Sam Wood at 215-854-2796, or @inqwriter on Twitter.

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