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Published April 05 2012

Pleas withdrawn, Fargo doctor accused of drugging, raping wife heading to trial

FARGO – A judge today allowed Fargo doctor Jon Norberg to withdraw guilty pleas to charges that he sexually assaulted and drugged his wife last year, setting the stage for a trial in August.

“I’m glad that the court has decided to let me withdraw my plea,” Norberg said after the hearing 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. 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.”

Judge Douglas Herman denied Norberg’s request to modify an order prohibiting him from coming within 300 yards of his wife and alleged victim, Dr. Alonna Norberg, so that Jon Norberg could attend their daughter’s first communion tonight.

Herman allowed attorney John Goff to withdraw as Norberg’s lawyer in the case. Norberg is now represented by Bob Hoy, a West Fargo attorney.

Norberg was initially charged last August with Class AA felony gross sexual imposition – a charge that can mean a life term in prison if convicted – and Class C felony reckless endangerment, which is punishable by up to five years in prison.

He entered Alford pleas Jan. 3 to the reckless endangerment charge and a reduced charge of Class B misdemeanor sexual assault, which 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 that he be allowed to withdraw the pleas, Norberg said he agreed to a plea bargain at 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 said is contrary to what his attorney told him prior to the pleas being entered.

The divorce case is scheduled for trial Sept. 10.

Prior to withdrawing his pleas, Norberg was scheduled for sentencing in the criminal case next Monday. That hearing has been canceled.

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.