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Girl testifies in ‘waterboarding’ trial of ex-doctor

GEORGETOWN, Del. — A Delaware girl who says she was ‘‘waterboarded’’ by her mother’s male companion, who was a pediatrician, testified Monday that the man held her face under a running faucet several times to punish her.

The 12-year-old took the stand in the trial of Melvin Morse, who has pleaded not guilty to endangerment and assault charges.

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The girl said infractions that led to the punishment included spilling milk, shaking an upside-down ketchup bottle, and vomiting into a cat’s litter box after being made to eat too much.

The girl also said she thinks she sometimes heard Morse yell ‘‘Die!’’ when holding her head under a faucet, in a procedure similar to the waterboarding technique used by interrogators trying to obtain information from alleged terrorists.

Morse has researched near-death experiences involving children. He denies police assertions that he may have been experimenting on the girl.

In opening statements last week, deputy attorney general Melanie Withers portrayed Morse as a brutal and domineering ‘‘lord and master’’ of his household, abusing the girl for years while her mother acquiesced in silence.

‘‘The defendant controlled every single aspect of that child’s life, including whether she had the right to draw breath,’’ Withers told jurors.

Defense attorney Joseph Hurley told jurors that the girl and her mother, Pauline, have told many conflicting and false stories to authorities over the years and that the waterboarding charges are unfounded.

Morse, 60, has pleaded not guilty to child endangerment and assault charges. He has specifically denied allegations he may have been conducting experiments on the girl.

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