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Records show troubled past of pediatrician accused of waterboarding stepdaughter

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In an interview with The Associated Press, Melvin Morse called the charges an overreaction by authorities. An attorney for Morse, Joe Hurley, said the idea that Morse was experimenting on his own daughter was "the sheerest of speculation."

Morse began researching near-death experiences in children about three decades ago after the near drowning of one of his patients. He was fascinated by the spiritual experiences the girl, and other children, described to him, including images of light, heaven and tunnels.

He sought to prove that drugs were causing the hallucinations, though he said his research proved otherwise. In 1990, he published "Closer to the Light," which spent several weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. He was featured in a Rolling Stone magazine story, and television shows had him on to speak about paranormal experiences.

He worked for Seattle Children's Hospital and Seattle Magazine listed Morse among the city's best doctors for more than a decade beginning in 1995, according to Morse's website. But by 2007, Morse had retired from full-time medical practice and moved to Delaware. Hepatitis C that he contracted in 1998 while treating children became too much of a toll on his health for him to continue working full time and he was declared disabled, he said.

While Morse once earned a six-digit income, he has struggled financially for years and owes tens of thousands of dollars in back taxes.

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