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Published November 14 2012

'Leave the children out of it,' wife tells lawyer in surgeon's rape trial

FARGO – The attorney for a Fargo surgeon accused of drugging and sexually assaulting his wife asked her this morning if she knew that making the allegations would benefit her in the couple’s divorce case and also in a previously unpublicized malpractice suit she served on her husband earlier this year.

Jon Norberg’s attorney, Robert Hoy, asked a line of questions that cut to the heart of the defense’s theory that Alonna Norberg made up the allegations in the summer of 2011 to gain the upper hand in the divorce case she was planning.

The divorce complaint is dated July 6, the day after Alonna Norberg first went to Fargo police with her allegations that her husband drugged her with the powerful sedative propofol without her consent and committed sex acts on her while she was sedated on the night of June 16-17, 2011. The divorce case is set for trial Jan. 14.

“Are you aware that a conviction of your husband in this case will result in you getting custody of the children in your divorce case?” Hoy asked Alonna Norberg, now in her third day of testimony.

“Mr. Hoy, I don’t know how this case will relate to the next case. This case is about this case. It’s about what happened between Jon and I. Leave the children out of it,” she said.

Hoy showed her a summons for the malpractice suit that was prepared on her behalf by her divorce attorney. Judge Douglas Herman asked to look at the suit before allowing Hoy to question Alonna Norberg about it, saying, “I have to study this, counsel. This is completely new to me. No one told me about this.”

The civil action, which names Jon Norberg and his coworkers as defendants, hasn’t been filed yet in Cass County District Court. It seeks a judgment of more than $50,000.

“Are you aware that a conviction of your husband in this case would be of assistance to you in your malpractice case against him?” Hoy asked Alonna Norberg.

“No,” she said.

“You think they’re completely disconnected?” Hoy said.

“I’m not a lawyer. I don’t understand all of that. I know we’re here for this reason, and the other reason, the malpractice case, is because of what happened to my body, and so I’d prefer to leave them separate and I can’t make that kind of transfer,” she said.

“But the allegations are the same in both cases, are they not?” Hoy said.

“Not exactly the same, no,” she said.

Alonna Norberg also was questioned about an affidavit she signed seeking a domestic violence protection order against Jon Norberg in the divorce case on July 5, the same day she first met with police.

Hoy asked her if she knew from reviewing state law that if she made allegations of domestic violence — specifically of sexual activity compelled by force — that she would get a court order giving her temporary possession of the couple’s home and custody of their three children.

“Requesting the protection order had nothing to do with any of that. There was protection for myself because of what he had done,” she said.

Hoy also asked if her allegations against her husband have had an impact on her family relations, referring to her younger sister’s testimony last week that she had backed away from Alonna Norberg in the year before the allegations were made.

Alonna Norberg confirmed that her sister is now “extremely supportive” of her.

“So you have, at least so far, managed to turn the tables on your husband, have you not?” Hoy said.

“I disagree with that statement,” she said.

“I have nothing else, your honor,” Hoy said.

On redirect, prosecutor Gary Euren brought up an appointment Alonna Norberg had with her psychologist on April 14, 2011, during which she said they discussed her marital problems, stress and depression,

including an incident around St. Patrick’s Day in 2011 in which she claims her husband performed a nonconsensual sex act with her she had previously said she was opposed to doing.

She said divorce came up during the discussion – an important point for the prosecution to counter the defense’s claim that it was Jon Norberg who first threatened divorce two months later during a Mediterranean cruise, which he claims ultimately led to her allegations.

Alonna Norberg said her concerns about divorce were “specifically that I was fearful of him. I was scared, and he was so verbally abusive and psychologically abusive that I felt like he made me feel like I was going crazy, and I was scared,” she said.

She said she told her psychologist she didn’t want a divorce.

“Why?” asked Euren, an assistant Cass County state’s attorney.

“Because I wanted our children to have a mom and a dad,” she said.

Jon Norberg is charged with gross sexual imposition, a Class AA felony punishable by up to life in prison upon conviction. He also faces a Class C felony reckless endangerment charge carrying a maximum penalty of five years in prison.