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Wendy Reuer, Published March 16 2012

Doctor accused of drugging, sex abuse asks to withdraw Alford pleas

FARGO – A former doctor here who pleaded guilty to drugging and raping his wife last August asked to withdraw his pleas Friday.

On Jan. 3, Dr. Jon Norberg, entered Alford pleas in Cass County District Court to charges of felony reckless endangerment and a misdemeanor count of sexual assault. An Alford plea doesn’t admit guilt but acknowledges a jury would likely convict based on the evidence.

Norberg was accused of sedating his wife with the anesthetic Propofol and raping her last June.

In documents filed Friday by Norberg’s attorney, Robert Hoy, Norberg is requesting his plea be withdrawn because John Goff, a lawyer who represented him in the criminal case, advised Norberg the Alford plea would avoid negative effects on the doctor’s pending divorce.

Norberg learned the judge presiding over his divorce plans to allow the issue of the Alford pleas to be raised in the divorce arguments, court documents say.

On Friday, Goff deferred to comment on the motion until a later date.

The motion also said Norberg’s plea was not valid because the court failed to inform him of all of his rights in open court.

Norberg continues to claim he is not guilty of the charges. He claims he administered the drugs to his wife with her consent for treatment of symptoms and anxiety for Dr. Alonna Knorr Norberg’s autoimmune disease.

Alonna Norberg denies she gave consent, releasing a statement in January that said her husband inappropriately gave her the drug without her consent “to impair me and gratify himself sexually.”

In the motion filed Friday, it said a court-appointed investigator issued a report in Norberg’s divorce proceedings that questions Alonna Norberg’s credibility.

The investigator’s report said there are “compelling reasons to be skeptical of Alonna’s Propofol narrative in its fullness.”

Norberg was initially charged with gross sexual imposition, a Class AA felony, and Class C felony reckless endangerment.

His plea agreement reduced the AA felony charge to a Class B misdemeanor, which upon conviction carries no more than a 30-day jail term. The Class C felony conviction for reckless endangerment carries a maximum prison term of five years.

The North Dakota Board of Medical Examiners has suspended Norberg’s medical license indefinitely. Norberg is a former orthopedic surgeon at Sanford Health.


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Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530