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By Dave Olson and Patrick Springer, Forum staff writers, Published March 23 2012

Norberg request gets no pushback

FARGO – Prosecutors will not contest a Fargo doctor’s request to withdraw his guilty pleas to charges accusing him of sexually assaulting and drugging his wife last year.

It will now be up to Judge Douglas Herman to decide whether Jon David Norberg can pull back the Alford pleas he entered in Cass County District Court in January.

Alford pleas don’t admit guilt but acknowledge a jury would likely convict based on the evidence.

The pleas were to charges of Class C felony reckless endangerment and Class B misdemeanor sexual assault, the latter having been reduced from a far more serious initial charge of Class AA felony gross sexual imposition.

In his motion asking that he be allowed to withdraw the pleas, Norberg maintained he is innocent of the charges and agreed to a plea bargain only because of the strong urging of his attorney at the time to avoid the risk of trial.

Norberg said he has learned the pleas could adversely affect a pending divorce case, which he maintained is contrary to what his attorney told him prior to the pleas being entered.

Norberg’s attorney, John Goff, has filed a motion to withdraw from the case, citing the fact Norberg has retained new counsel.

His attorney is now Bob Hoy. Hoy didn’t return a phone message seeking comment on Friday.

The divorce case is scheduled for trial Sept. 10.

A motion hearing in the criminal case is slated for April 5, four days before a sentencing hearing is set.

Reid Brady, one of two assistant Cass County state’s attorney handling the case, said Friday that, based on the information contained in the defense motion, prosecutors will not object to Norberg’s request.

Dr. Alonna Norberg had told police Jon Norberg, 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.

In an agreement approved Friday by the board, Alonna Norberg, a pediatrician, pledged to notify the North Dakota Board of Medical Examiners before returning to active practice.

“It is not a disciplinary document,” said Duane Houdek, the board’s executive secretary. “It is premised on the fact that Dr. Norberg is unable to practice medicine because of a physical disability. There was concern on the part of the board about her ability to practice medicine.”

Before resuming her medical practice, she agreed to “provide any medical records and reports and any medical/physiological

/psychological evaluation” the board sees fit to require, according to the agreement.

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Readers can reach Forum reporters Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555 and Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522