GEORGETOWN, Del. —
"What the prosecution was trying to do was skin him alive and tar-and-feather him with 'he's a cruel, bad person," Hurley said.
Morse was charged with endangerment and assault after the girl ran away in July 2012 and told authorities of waterboarding and other abuse.
The girl fled her home and went to a classmate's house the morning after Morse grabbed her by the ankle and dragged her across a gravel driveway into the home, where she was spanked and warned of worse punishment the next day. When investigators questioned the girl, then 11, she told them about what she called waterboarding.
Morse was convicted of misdemeanor assault and child endangerment charges for the driveway incident, which he acknowledged he could have handled better.
Morse, whose medical license was suspended after his arrest, has written several books and articles on paranormal science and near-death experiences involving children. He has appeared on shows such as "Larry King Live" and the "The Oprah Winfrey Show" to discuss his research, which also has been featured on an episode of "Unsolved Mysteries" and in an article in "Rolling Stone" magazine. Morse denied police claims that he may have been experimenting on the girl.
Prosecutors argued that in addition to waterboarding, Melvin Morse subjected the girl to other abuse, including forcing her to stand with arms outstretched for hours at a time, confining her to room, where she had to use her toy box or closet as a toilet, and alternately depriving her of food or force feeding her until she vomited.
The felony conviction against Morse stems from an incident in which the girl said she was waterboarded in the bathtub as punishment for vomiting into a cat's litter box after being forced to drink too much milk.
The girl and her younger sister remain in foster care but are allowed supervised visits with Pauline Morse. Pauline Morse admitted that she hoped her cooperation with prosecutors would bolster her chances of being reunited with her daughters. Her supervised visits with the girls were recently increased from once a week to twice a week.
"She's optimistic and she's moving forward," said her public defender, Dean Johnson.