Melvin and Pauline Morse
Credits: POLICE PHOTO
The 11-year-old girl told police her father held her face under the tap for punishment and caused water to fill her nostrils at least four times in a two-year period while her mother did nothing, Delaware State Police said.
Dr. Melvin Morse is alleged to have told the girl "she could go five minutes without brain damage," according to court documents obtained by Delaware's The News Journal.
Her mother, Pauline Morse, 40, is accused of having witnessed the torture several times and not stepped in.
Melvin Morse, 58, a practising physician in Georgetown and head of the Institute for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, participated in a conference in Montreal last month to lecture about the near-death experiences of children, according to the organization's website.
He has co-authored a book based on interviews with children who nearly died and has been a guest on Oprah and CNN's Larry King.
Police were first called after Morse dragged the girl by her ankle across a gravel driveway at the family home on July 12, police said. In an interview this month, the girl told investigators her dad punished her in an act he called "waterboarding" at least four times between May 2009 and May 2011.
Melvin and Pauline Morse are charged with reckless endangerment, endangering the welfare of a child and conspiracy, police said.
The girl and her five-year-old sister are in the care of the state.