Melvin Morse, a former pediatrician who allegedly abused his ex-wife's daughter, is being tried on charges of reckless engagement and endangering a child's welfare. Morse, who was a registered MD in Delaware until his arrest in August 2012, is pleading not guilty to the charges against him, including claims that he forced his step-daughter to stand for hours on end, and undergo a punishment which he called "waterboarding." At the first trial hearing, Deputy Attorney General Melanie Withers told the jury that the girl in question, who was 11 at the time of the alleged assault, lived in "a household where the defendant was lord and master."
The apparent young victim also lived alongside her half-sister, Morse's biological daughter with his ex-wife. Morse apparently treated his own daughter in a preferential way, ensuring she went to private school, "was given plenty of toys to play with, and was never abused physically" stated Withers. Meanwhile, Morse's stepdaughter told police that he had abused her. On July 13, 2012, the night before Melvin Morse had dragged her across a gravel driveway, he allegedly spanked her and said she would get a severe punishment the next day. The nurse who then examined her testified she had several bruises and abrasions on her body.
Upon Morse's arrest last year, the Associated Press revealed that a search warrant on Morse's computers had been issued to try and prove whether Morse had been "researching" his near-death in children theories on his stepdaughter. Morse had previously won national plaudits for his research on near-death experiences on children. Along side publishing a book, Where God Lives, he had appeared on both on Larry King, Good Morning America, and even Oprah to discuss his beliefs and findings.
Meanwhile, Morse's lawyer warned the jury against believing all they had heard at this early stage, and countered Wither's testimony by saying that Morse's step-daughter had lied about Morse hitting her before in police interviews. Her mother, meanwhile, Hurley suggested, was only cooperating in order to be reunited with her daughters whom she only now gets to see on supervised visits.