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Published May 24 2012

Norberg’s attorney: Memory of alleged rape could’ve been a dream

FARGO – Fargo surgeon Jon Norberg is headed to trial on charges that he drugged and raped his wife, despite a passionate plea from his attorney Thursday that the case should be dismissed.

After a contested preliminary hearing with testimony from four witnesses, Judge Douglas Herman found probable cause to bind Norberg over for a jury trial on Aug. 28 on charges of gross sexual imposition and reckless endangerment.

Defense attorney Robert Hoy told Herman that the case was “trumped up to gain some leverage or advantage” for Alonna Norberg in her divorce and child custody case against her husband.

Hoy accused prosecutors of “offering hearsay and playing hide the ball in cahoots” with Alonna Norberg’s divorce counsel.

He also referred to Alonna Norberg’s statement to a Fargo police detective in which she referred to her recollection of her husband raping her as a dream or memory. Hoy said the state offered no evidence to prove the alleged rape on June 16-17, 2011, wasn’t a dream.

“That’s simply wrong. This is a case that never should have been charged. They should have left it in the divorce court where it belonged,” Hoy said.

Assistant State’s Attorney Gary Euren took umbrage at Hoy’s remarks, saying that to imply prosecutors would participate in a conspiracy involving such serious charges to help someone win a divorce case is “doing a disservice to the whole judicial system and especially the Cass County State’s Attorney’s office.”

Euren ticked off a list of evidence the state has against Norberg, including a tape-recorded conversation between the couple in which Jon Norberg allegedly acknowledged they had sex when his wife was on propofol, a powerful sedative that gained notoriety during the trial of Conrad Murray, the doctor who treated pop star Michael Jackson before his death.

Euren acknowledged there was no rape kit conducted on Alonna Norberg and no physical evidence of sexual assault.

“It’s important, but it’s a factual issue for the jury to decide,” he told Herman.

After Herman’s ruling, Jon Norberg pleaded not guilty to both charges. He and Hoy declined to comment after the hearing.

Norberg faces up to life in prison without parole and a mandatory minimum of five years in prison if convicted of the Class AA felony gross sexual imposition charge. The Class C felony reckless endangerment charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Though The Forum does not usually identify alleged victims of sexual assault, Alonna Norberg consented to be named to contest her husband’s claims that he never sexually abused her and had her permission to treat her with propofol.

Thursday’s hearing was continued from Wednesday because of a work conflict for Hoy’s final witness, a nurse practitioner who worked with Jon Norberg at the Plastic Surgery Institute in Fargo.

Kelly Stauss Carlson testified that after Alonna Norberg was diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome, an immune system disorder, she began taking pain medication and her demeanor changed.

“I guess she just seemed more in a haze,” she said.

On cross examination by Euren, Stauss Carlson said she didn’t know if Alonna Norberg was taking more medication than she should have been.