A Delaware pediatrician accused of waterboarding his
11-year-old stepdaughter has admitted injuring the girl by
dragging her over a gravel driveway in what he described as a
moment of carelessness.
Dr Melvin Morse, a best-selling author on near-death
experiences, is standing trial on child endangerment charges
dating back to July 2012 when police were called to his home
over the driveway incident.
His stepdaughter, 11 at the time, told authorities that
Morse, 60, had waterboarded her on four occasions. He has
denied this during his trial, now in its third week.
"Why did you drag her out of the car by her ankle?" state
prosecutor Melanie Withers asked during four and a half hours
"I just reached in there and grabbed her," replied Morse, who
has appeared on "Oprah" and "Good Morning America." "I did
pull her out of the car roughly, carelessly."
When the girl, whose name has been withheld due to her age,
began screaming and kicking, Morse dropped her and dragged
her across the gravel driveway, he recalled.
"I'm sure I put marks on her," he said. "I was careless."
Morse denied allegations that he prevented his stepdaughter
from bathing, suffocated her and kept her in her room without
access to a bathroom.
He said he "berated" the girl to encourage her to eat more,
but never force fed her, as she and her mother have
"I believe we had a loving home," said Morse. He described
the girl, now 12, as "deeply troubled" and in constant
Withers also asked Morse why he had recorded videos of
himself lecturing the girl and showed the Sussex County
Superior Court photographs of the child crying, which she
said Morse had taken.
"Are you proud of the fact, now, that you took them?" asked
"I'm ashamed," said Morse, who also admitted to slapping the
girl more than once. "I'm not a perfect person by any means."
On Monday, Morse denied waterboarding the girl, the daughter
of his now-estranged wife Pauline Morse, and said he had only
been trying to wash her hair. Last week, the girl testified
that she had feared for her life during the process.
Typically associated with the interrogation of terrorism
suspects, waterboarding in general involves holding a cloth
over a person's face and flooding it with water to simulate
Morse said many of the parenting techniques presented as
evidence against him, including the video recordings and a
discipline journal, were inspired by advice during family
Under cross-examination by defence attorneys last week, the
girl admitted to having said in previous testimony that her
older half-sister had sexually abused her twice, when there
had been only one instance of molestation.