Judge allows Norberg to withdraw guilty pleaA judge on Thursday allowed Fargo doctor Jon Norberg to withdraw guilty pleas to charges that he raped and drugged his wife last year, but denied his request to ease a court order barring contact with his wife so he could attend their children’s events.
By: By Mike Nowatzki, Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
FARGO — A judge on Thursday allowed Fargo doctor Jon Norberg to withdraw guilty pleas to charges that he raped and drugged his wife last year, but denied his request to ease a court order barring contact with his wife so he could attend their children’s events.
Norberg said he was glad the court let him withdraw his pleas, which now sets the stage for an Aug. 28 trial in Cass County District Court.
“If the state’s attorney chooses to move forward with this case, I will use my day in court to prove my innocence and end this nightmare which has been created for me and my children,” he said after the hearing. “Hopefully this can be accomplished quickly so that I can be reunited with my children and resume my practice and begin caring for patients again.”
Assistant Cass County State’s Attorney Gary Euren said the state will move forward with the original charges filed in August against Norberg: Class AA felony gross sexual imposition, which can mean a life term in prison if convicted, and felony reckless endangerment, punishable by up to five years in prison.
“I’m confident we’ll be able to prove them to a jury,” Euren said.
Judge Douglas Herman denied Norberg’s request to modify a no-contact order prohibiting him from coming within 300 yards of his estranged wife and alleged victim, Dr. Alonna Norberg, so that Jon Norberg could attend their daughter’s first communion Thursday night.
Herman said he wasn’t comfortable changing the order without knowing what, if any, such order may be in place in the Norbergs’ divorce case, set for trial Sept. 10.
Norberg entered Alford pleas Jan. 3 to the reckless endangerment charge and a reduced charge of Class B misdemeanor sexual assault, which is punishable by 30 days in jail and replaced the felony rape charge. An Alford plea doesn’t admit guilt but acknowledges a jury would likely convict based on the evidence.
In his motion asking to withdraw the pleas, Norberg said he agreed to a plea bargain at the strong urging of his attorney at the time, John Goff, to avoid the risk of trial. Herman allowed Goff to withdraw Thursday as Norberg’s lawyer in the case. Norberg is now represented by Bob Hoy, a West Fargo attorney.
Norberg said he learned the Alford pleas could adversely affect a pending divorce case, which he said is contrary to what his attorney told him prior to the pleas being entered.
Norberg’s sentencing hearing, scheduled for next Monday, was canceled.
Alonna Norberg had told police her husband gave her propofol, an anesthetic, before raping her in her sleep.
Though The Forum does not usually identify alleged victims of sexual assault, Alonna Norberg consented to be publicly named to contest her husband’s claims she had given permission to the propofol usage to treat an autoimmune disease and wasn’t sexually abused by him.
The state medical licensing board has indefinitely suspended Jon Norberg, an orthopedic surgeon, from practicing medicine, citing his administration of propofol to his wife.
Mike Nowatzki is a reporter
at The Forum of Fargo-
Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.