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Published April 30 2012

Norberg gains unsupervised visitation

FARGO – Should a man charged with drugging and sexually assaulting his wife be allowed to have unsupervised contact with their children?

The judge presiding over the complex divorce case of Fargo doctors Jon and Alonna Norberg has decided the answer is yes – but the legal questions don’t stop there.

On Monday, a different judge handling Jon Norberg’s criminal case refused to reduce the 300-yard distance he must stay away from his estranged wife under a no-contact order issued in Cass County District Court.

Monday’s hearing before Judge Douglas Herman highlighted the legal challenges of what attorneys on both sides say is a unique situation that spans both the civil and criminal court systems.

In the divorce case, the contentious custody issue was settled last week – at least temporarily – when Judge Steven Marquart issued an amended order creating an alternating visitation schedule.

The exchanges will take place at Rainbow Bridge or through another person agreed upon by the parties.

“There is clear and convincing evidence that leaves this court with a firm belief that unsupervised parenting time for (Jon Norberg) would not endanger the minor children’s physical or emotional health,” Marquart wrote in the April 23 order.

Jon Norberg’s attorney in the criminal case, Robert Hoy, said Monday his remaining concern is that while the order in the divorce case is binding on both parties, the no-contact order is binding only on Jon Norberg.

Hoy said he doesn’t want to see his client land in jail if Alonna Norberg decides to put herself within 300 yards of Jon Norberg during his visitation time.

Prosecutor Gary Euren, an assistant Cass County state’s attorney, said he understands the dilemma, adding if Alonna Norberg “wanted to be perverse about this” she could put Jon Norberg in violation of the order. But she’s assured prosecutors she won’t do that, he said.

Herman proposed adding a “safety valve” to the no-contact order to clarify that if Jon Norberg is at an event with the children during his scheduled visitation time and Alonna Norberg shows up, he won’t be subject to arrest.

Still, that doesn’t address the so-called “special events” Jon Norberg believes he should be able to attend, such as his daughter’s first communion he missed last month because of the no-contact order.

Herman asked attorneys for both sides to send him their preferred language for amending the order. He said he would issue an amended version by noon Wednesday.

Jon Norberg is accused of drugging his wife with the powerful sedative Propofol and raping her. He refutes the rape allegation and says he gave her the drug with her consent, which she denies.

Norberg is scheduled for trial on Aug. 28 on charges of 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.

The divorce trial is set for Sept. 10.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528