On Thursday, Feb. 13, CNN reported that the Delaware pediatrician was convicted of waterboarding his daughter. It took the jury only six hours to return the guilty verdict.
Melvin Morse, 60, was charged with three felonies, two were alleged waterboarding and one was alleged suffocation by hand. However, he was only convicted of one felony for waterboarding and five misdemeanors. He was acquitted of the suffocation charge.
Morse will remain free on bail until he appears in court on April 11 for his sentencing. The judge however ordered him to surrender his passport.
Prosecutor Melanie Withers stated that she was “very gratified” by the guilty verdict. Morse’s lead defense attorney, Joseph Hurley has revealed he has plans to appeal the decision.
Hurley went on to claim that the judge’s decision to allow the jury to view interviews the victim and her sister gave to law enforcement authorities prejudiced the jury. He went on to add that it was unfair to Morse because the interviews were unsworn statements.
During the trial, Hurley tried to explain to the jury that the alleged waterboarding wasn’t done to the victim in the tradition thought definition. Instead, Hurley claims the term waterboarding was used in the family as a joke that described the victim’s dislike of having her hair washed.
In July 2012, the young victim ran away and when she spoke to the authorities, she told them about the waterboarding and other types of abuse she allegedly endured at the hands of Morse. Pauline Morse, 41, the mother of the victim pleaded guilty last year to misdemeanor endangerment charges.
Pauline Morse also agreed to testify against Melvin Morse. According to the testimony by the victim and Pauline Morse, waterboarding was used as a threat and form of punishment.
Waterboarding was a technique U.S. interrogators used to use on terror suspects. It simulates drowning and many people who are against this interrogation method classify it as torture.
On the day, the young girl, who was 11 years-old at the time ran away Morse allegedly grabbed her by the ankle and dragged her across the gravel driveway and into their home. The little girl then told authorities she was spanked and threatened with worse punishments.
It was at that time that she told them about being waterboarded by her father. In addition to the waterboarding, prosecutors told the jury that Morse also forced the girl to stand with her arms outstretched for hours at a time. He would also confine her to her room forcing her to use her toy box or closet as a toilet and would either be deprived as food, or force fed until she began vomiting all as means of punishment.
The prosecutor argued that Melvin Morse was brutal and domineering, behaving as the “lord and master” of their home. The victim’s mother testified that she chose to ignore the abuse because she was afraid of “undermining” him.
The young girl and her little sister are in foster care however; their mother, Pauline Morse does have supervised visits with them. Pauline Morse revealed that she hopes her testimony and cooperation will work in helping her be reunited with her daughters.
Melvin Morse faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison however; experts believe he will receive a lesser sentence.
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