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Saturday, January 6, 2024

The Dr. Melvin Morse Child Abuse Case

     Dr. Melvin L. Morse, after earning his medical degree in 1980 from George Washington University, interned in pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco. Dr. Morse completed his residency in pediatrics at Children's Hospital in Seattle and set up a private practice in the city. The young doctor also held the position of Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Washington.

     In the late 1980s, through his nonprofit organization called The Institute for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, Dr. Morse interviewed hundreds of children who had been declared clinically dead. These interviews led him to believe that children, too young to have been indoctrinated in religion and the belief in an afterlife, experienced near-death telepathic conversations and encounters with dead friends and relatives. 

      In 1991 Dr. Morse used his child interviews to publish his first book. Co-authored by a writer named Paul Perry it was called Closer to the Light. The book made The New York Times bestseller's list for three months and was eventually published in 19 languages in 38 countries. An accomplished self-promoter with a good publicist, the new-age guru appeared on the Larry King and Oprah Winfrey shows.

     During the height of his fame Dr. Morse appeared on ABC's "20-20," NBC's "Unsolved Mysteries" and "Dateline" as well as "Good Morning America" and the "Tom Snyder Show." He was also the subject of dozens of articles in major newspapers and magazines.

     In 1992 in the midst of his fame, Dr. Morse and his co-author published a follow-up book called Transformed by the Light. The second work didn't do nearly as well as Closer to the Light. The doctor and his co-author's last book, Where God Lives: The Science of the Paranormal and How Our Brains Are Linked to the Universe came out in 2001.

     In 2012 the 58-year-old author and physician lived with his second wife Pauline in Sussex Delaware along with his five and eleven-year-old daughters. (Dr. Morse had gone through a contentious divorce from his first wife.) On his website Dr. Morse wrote about the "big ideas" that had drawn people to him from all over the world. 
     On July 12, 2012 an incident involving Dr. Morse and his 11-year-old daughter marked the end of his career and the loss of his followers. After pulling into his driveway that day his daughter refused to get out of the vehicle. The doctor allegedly pulled her out of the car by the ankles and dragged her across the gravel into the house where he gave her a spanking. Later that day the daughter informed a neighbor of what happened to her. The neighbor reported the girl's story to the police.

     The following day local police officers arrested Dr. Morse. State child protection agents got involved in the case and took his daughters into protective custody.

     On Monday August 6, 2012, Dr. Morse's 11-year-old daughter, while being questioned by officers with the Delaware State Police at the Child Advocacy Center, accused her father of subjecting her to what he called "water boarding." According to the girl, on at least four occasions, beginning in May 2009, Dr. Morse held her face under running faucets in the kitchen and the bathroom causing tap water to shoot up her nose. The abuse replicated the feeling of drowning. While Dr. Morse allegedly tortured the girl, her 40-year-old mother Pauline looked on. The accuser's five-year-old sister reportedly informed police officers that she had witnessed the water boarding as well.

     A local prosecutor charged Dr. Melvin Morse and his wife Pauline with felony counts of reckless endangerment, endangering the welfare of a child and conspiracy to commit assault. Police officers took them into custody on August 7, 2012. After brief stints in the Sussex Correctional Institution the couple made bail ($14,500 each) and was released.

      Defense Attorney Joe Hurley publicly questioned the credibility of his client's 11-year-old daughter, suggesting that she might have made false accusations to get attention.

     Two days after the water boarding arrests Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock announced that Dr. Morse presented a "clear and immediate danger to public health" if permitted to continue practicing medicine. The state official ordered the emergency suspension of his Delaware medical license.

     On April 11, 2014 Superior Court Judge Richard F. Stokes, following Dr. Morse's conviction, sentenced him to three to five years in prison. The judge denied a motion by Melvin Morse to remain free on bail while his attorney appealed his case. According to attorney Hurley his client was undergoing treatment for prostate cancer.
     Following her conviction the judge sentenced Pauline Morse to probation. 

     Dr. Morse was released from the Sussex County Correctional Institution in 2016. According to a corrections official he had undergone a transformation in prison. Following his release Dr. Morse co-founded The Recidivism Prevention Program, a company dedicated to assisting addicts and former inmates in the development of spiritual awareness to facilitate their re-entry into society. 
     In September 2022, following a hearing, Delaware's Medical Licensure and Discipline Board lifted the suspension of Dr. Morse's medical license.


  1. I followed Dr Morse during his heyday advocating life after death and was shocked when the allegations of child abuse surfaced. My understanding is he suffered finanacial hardship and a stressful divorce. He probably snapped in a psychiatric way.
    We all are human and mistakes and pitfalls do occur. He paid his due to society. He still made an admirable case for life after death, an expert in that field. The indian saying of do not judge another person unless you actually walked their path I believe holds true. He is not a Saddam Hussein or some crazy murderous dictator. I wish him well and hope his healing has taken him back to his supposed glory days. Obviously a bright, talented pediatrician that somehow got led astray. I am interested in where he goes from here. Not sure if he will be in the public eye.

    1. Sorry, but I don't buy it. There is NO EXCUSE for child abuse! You care so much for his "healing"- what about the children healing?

  2. Hmmm, This page boasts "More than 4,235,000 pageviews from 160 countries" while berating another person for their fame. The author clearly has a lot of malice here.

  3. This article is typical of the cynicism and judgment that has invaded American culture. How do you know it's pseudoscience? Because you don't believe it?

  4. His medical license was reinstated in 2022, seems like the daughter lied not only about him but also about another sibling, causing the sibling to spend a year in juvenile detention.