Records show troubled past of pediatrician accused of waterboarding stepdaughter
Doctor Melvin Morse, who faces allegations of waterboarding his 11-year-old stepdaughter, had financial problems and a troubled relationship with his ex-wife. He was also fascinated by the near-death experiences of children.
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"I have the most ordinary reasons for that — the collapse of my income and my first divorce," Morse said. "I do not have an adversarial relationship with the IRS. ... I'll eventually repay my taxes."Skip to next paragraph
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Morse's financial problems are outlined in court records from a contentious divorce and custody battle with his first wife that stretched on for nearly a decade.
Morse's ex-wife, Allison Morse, claimed her ex-husband has abused prescription drugs and made false accusations against their adopted children that have led to criminal charges against them.
"He is a pathological liar and he makes stuff up about his own children," she told the AP.
At the same time, Allison said Morse was a good dad and never abused their three adopted children during their marriage of almost 20 years.
As the marriage began to unravel in the late 1990s, however, he became more and more emotionally unstable, she said.
"He was just angry all the time and just really had some severe emotional problems going on," she said.
Allison said she was never able to find out why her husband was so troubled.
In 2006, Morse said in court papers he was once the subject of an inquiry by the Medical Quality Assurance Commission in Washington, which he blamed on stress from his marital problems. Morse said he accepted three months of psychiatric treatment.
In that same court filing, he denied that he had a history of multiple suicide attempts but said he made a "suicide gesture" when his marriage was falling apart by swallowing prescription pills.
In separate court filings, Morse referred to an earlier suicide attempt and being taken to an emergency room in November 2001 for "drug overdose, alcoholism, and depression."
Morse has published several books over the years, and writings include a quasi-autobiographical story in which he describes how an imaginary falcon told him to move "quickly in the dark of night" to the East Coast, where his destiny lay and where he could find rich soil for his "BIG IDEA" to grow.
Morse, who said he uses "a lot of irony and a lot of tongue-in-cheek" expressions when he writes, told the AP his "BIG IDEA" involved a theory of consciousness based on his study of children who have suffered cardiac arrest.
"These children made it clear that consciousness persists despite having dying, dysfunctional brains," he said. The theory is that brains are linked to "a non-local consciousness and a timeless, spaceless reality," whichMorse calls the "God Spot."
Morse currently lives with Pauline Morse in Delaware with their two children, the 11-year-old girl and her 6-year-old sister. Their marriage was at one point dissolved, and it's not clear if they remarried. Their children have been placed in state custody.
"He gave one of the best keynote addresses he has ever given in his life," she said.
But when she went to hug Morse, Atwater sensed something was wrong.
"I just picked up a lot of worry, a lot of stress, a lot of problems," she said.