A judge sentenced a former pediatrician to at least three years in prison for offenses in the waterboarding of his 11-year-old stepdaughter.
Superior Court Judge Richard F. Strokes slapped Melvin L. Morse with a five-year sentence Friday, but ordered he could possibly be put on probation after serving three years of it. Morse was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs. Motions made by Morse’s attorney to delay the sentence due to Morse being treated for prostate cancer were denied by the judge.
A former pediatrician, Morse was arrested in August 2012 after his stepdaughter ran away from home and told police he had forcefully held her head under running water, leading her to believe she would drown.
He pleaded not guilty and testified in his own defense in a January trial, but a jury ultimately found him guilty of six offenses, including first-degree reckless endangerment.
The jury deliberated for about six grueling hours before delivering its verdict against Morse on February 13.
The girl’s mother, Pauline Morse, 41, pleaded guilty last year to misdemeanor endangerment charges, testifying against Melvin Morse.
Pauline Morse and her daughter, now 12-years-old, testified that Melvin Morse used waterboarding as a form of punishment and used it for threatening his daughter.
Pauline Morse, her daughter and other prosecution witnesses described Morse as a father figure who served severe punishment to the girl at the girl seemingly at random times while favoring her younger sister, who is Morse’s biological daughter.
Prosecutors argued that in addition to being waterboarded, Morse subjected the girl to other forms of abuse, including being forced to stand with her arms outstretched for hours at a time, being confined to her room, and food deprivation.