“Morgenstern is every parent’s nightmare. He preyed on families by grooming both the parents and children into trusting him, so he could be alone with his victims.” (Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Lister)
His name is Doctor Craig Morgenstern and he knew exactly how to lure middle-school boys to his lair in a suburb of Spokane Washington. He merely stocked his house with pizza and cold drinks and computer games and guns and lots of cool electronic toys. Then he would systematically drug the boys into states of unconsciousness and carry them into the bedroom. He was a psycho-bachelor on a mission. The youngest victim was 7 years old. The eldest was 16. And he had the perfect formula to get naked with each of them, and take full-color pictures and videos of his secret fun and games.
And they always woke up feeling a little weird, with no memory of the night before.
Morgenstern, a 46-year old emergency MD, preyed on children by winning over their parents. In many cases he groomed entire families, convincing them that he was trustworthy. Their confidence gained, he would create situations for sexual assaults. He hosted slumber parties and took them on fun trips, like Tennessee and Mississippi, and the Hayden Lake, Idaho Waterpark. What could go wrong? The kids were among friends and in good hands.
As a youth volunteer, a V.A. physician and a Boy Scout troop leader, this particular physician was every parent’s nightmare.
Investigators would eventually learn that for at least six years, Morgenstern had made a habit of sexually molesting boys behind the walls of his posh riverside home in Nine Mile Falls. As a physician he certainly had no problem getting the drugs he needed to knock out and molest children. As a Boy Scout leader, he had no problem gaining the trust of parents. The kids would be easy pickings.
But on October 17, 2014, all those despicable perversions behind closed doors with other people’s children, finally came to a screeching halt. A particularly brave 8th grade boy faked the doctor into thinking he’d fallen asleep one night. The spiked hot chocolate hadn’t worked. And when Morgenstern left the bedroom briefly, the boy sneaked out of the house and ran to the home of a neighbor in near-freezing weather at 2:30 in the morning. 911 was called; Stevens County Sheriff’s deputies arrived and the jig was up.
When detectives searched the house they discovered the doctor had been a meticulous medic: he’d been collecting child pornography since the summer of 2004, and carefully filed nearly 1,000,000 lewd, juvenile photos on his computer. And 100,000 or more were naked photos of his own, personal victims.
Not much good comes out of a case like this, so we have to celebrate the small victories. And here’s one: a federal jury found this medical monster guilty on 33 felonies. He was sentenced in July by U.S. District Judge Freming Nielsen, to 12 life terms in a federal prison.
Here’s another look at this medical monster: