There’s a case in the news right now about a 60 year old pediatrician who was accused of “waterboarding” his 12 year old step daughter (among other abuses) under the guise of “washing her hair.”http://www.npr.org/2007/11/03/15886834/waterboarding-a-tortured-history
A former Delaware pediatrician defended himself in court yesterday where he’s accused of waterboarding his longtime companion’s daughter by holding the girl’s head under a faucet.
Melvin Morse, 60, will be cross-examined by prosecutors today in his trial on endangerment and assault charges. He testified Monday that he was simply trying to get the girl’s hair clean.
He told the court that he and the girl’s mother, Pauline Morse, became exasperated trying to wash the girl’s hair in the shower when she was 8-years-old after she insisted she was too old to take a bath.
The girl, now 12, and her mother have said Morse used hair-washing as a threat or punishment when she misbehaved.
What is interesting to me in particular though is not that we have another alleged abusive step father, who in fact, was a “respected” MD but that the mother knew this was going on and yet, she did not report this abuse or defend her daughter from it.
The girl’s mother did testify for the prosecution after she too was arrested for hot protecting her daughter from this abuse.
Pauline Morse said she saw Morse holding the girl’s head under a faucet one day and doesn’t believe his claims of washing her hair.
She also told the Delaware jury of him dragging her across a gravel driveway by her ankle and down the stairs of their home.
Pauline Morse testified that she walked into the kitchen one time and surprised Morse while he had the now 12-year-old girl’s head under the faucet. She said he jumped and quickly released the girl, who was coughing and shaking.
‘He called it washing her hair, but I knew it wasn’t washing her hair because there was no soap or anything,’ she recalled.
He would routinely use ‘hair washing’ as a threat or punishment for the girl, she continued.
‘He would just say “I’m going to wash your hair,” and he would say “I will do it again,”‘ she testified.
She pleaded guilty last year to misdemeanor child endangerment charges for doing nothing to stop the several instances of abuse she says she either saw or heard.
Unfortunately, too many times the other parent in a case of abuse are themselves emotionally, if not physically, abused and are held in the relationship with a trauma bond (link) to the abuser and find it difficult to leave or report the situation.
I grew up in a family with the mantra of “what would the neighbors think if they knew X, Y or Z?” This culture, in which the innocent family member is tasked with keeping the family secrets from becoming public, because if the misdeeds become “public” then the person who exposed them is blamed for the resulting loss of face in the family whose goal is to cover up anything that isn’t “nice.”
Keeping secrets of this sort is toxic to everyone involved.
Before World War II, any person who brought “shame” on to the family name through failure of any kind was expected to commit suicide to expunge the “shame” their failure caused the family. Of course most of the time here in the US today we don’t take it to that extreme, but even here sometimes that is the case.
For a child who expects, or should expect, that their parents will keep them safe is doubly betrayed when one parent abuses and the other parent doesn’t stop it. Unfortunately too many times this is found in our society. If you read the news you will see case after case after case of this torturous behavior. But we see only the ones that result in the abuse being exposed in some way, many times by the death of the child.
Abuse happens in all levels of our society…rich, poor, ignorant, educated, white, black, brown and green. This particular case of abuse went on for nearly a decade, with the child being molested by an older step sibling sexually, and then abused by the step father, and not protected by the mother. I hope and pray that this young girl gets the therapy she needs and is not so badly scarred already that there is little or no hope for her recovery. At least she is alive so there is some hope for her.
I also hope that her father, who seems to me to be a psychopath, though I can’t make a diagnosis of course, but his lack of remorse, his blaming his victim for the abuse, etc. sure indicate lack of conscience and a narcissistic bent.
I pray for this young woman and every child who is being abused, and I hope that more nurturing parents will be able to protect their children from any abuse from anyone.