GEORGETOWN, Del. (AP) — A Delaware woman whose longtime companion is accused of waterboarding her daughter by holding the child's head under a faucet says the couple used the term jokingly for hair washing.
"I think sometimes we would joke about it and call it waterboarding," Pauline Morse said in a police interview shown to jurors Friday in the trial of Melvin Morse.
In the 2012 interview, Pauline Morse also said the "hair washing" by Melvin Morse, a former pediatrician, was usually over quickly.
"She's making noises the whole time and it's usually a matter of less than a minute," she told the detective.
"I didn't see whether (water) was on her face or not," she added.
Pauline Morse reiterated Friday that she saw only one such incident, when she walked into the kitchen and surprised Melvin Morse while he had the girl's head under the faucet. She testified on Thursday that Morse jumped and quickly released the girl, who was coughing and shaking.
Melvin Morse, 60, is accused of endangerment and assault and could get more than 20 years in prison if convicted. The girl claims the waterboarding left her struggling for breath and was only one of several forms of physical punishment to which Morse subjected her.
In testimony earlier in the week, however, she also acknowledged that she had lied several times about her treatment at home and about whether she told anyone about the alleged abuse.
Melvin Morse, whose medical license was suspended after his arrest, has authored 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 has denied police claims that he may have been using waterboarding to experiment on the girl, now 12.
Pauline Morse, 41, reached a deal with prosecutors last year to plead guilty to misdemeanor endangerment charges in exchange for her testimony against Melvin Morse. She received probation.
But as she did under cross-examination Thursday, Pauline Morse on Friday acknowledged several contradictions in her testimony and in statements she has given to authorities.
Asked by defense attorney Joseph Hurley how long the girl had not liked having her hair washed, Pauline Morse said she didn't remember the girl not liking it, at least when her mother did it. Jurors then watched a police interview video in which Pauline said the girl "never liked having her hair washed."