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Published March 15 2013

Fargo surgeon Jon Norberg awarded custody of children, house in divorce case

FARGO – Less than four months after a jury acquitted him of drugging and sexually assaulting his wife, Fargo surgeon Jon Norberg has been granted primary custody of the couple’s three children.

In a divorce judgment filed Thursday in Cass County District Court, Judge Steven Marquart wrote that it was Alonna Norberg’s “lies” about how her husband gave her the powerful sedative propofol without her knowledge and sexually abused her that instigated the charges.

“Here, Alonna’s false allegations required Jon to defend the criminal charges that were brought against him, as well as the domestic violence protection order,” Marquart wrote. “Because of Alonna’s fake allegations, hundreds of thousands of dollars were dissipated from the marital estate by Jon in defending against these allegations. The court, in dividing the assets and liabilities between the parties, has taken these factors into account.”

Marquart awarded $1,112,892.50 in assets and $1,301,040 in debts to Jon Norberg and $348,786.50 in assets and $712,641 in debts to Alonna Norberg.

The judge gave the couple’s house in Fargo’s Rose Creek neighborhood to Jon Norberg. The house is in foreclosure, but Jon Norberg said he hopes to get the suspension of his medical license lifted and resume payments on the house to bring it out of foreclosure.

Norberg said he’s pleased the truth came out.

“I’m eager for this to be done. My kids don’t need any more trauma from this. They need less drama, not more drama, and I think that the court saw that being with me was a better situation for them,” he said.

Attempts to reach Alonna Norberg for comment Friday were unsuccessful. Her divorce attorney, Patti Jensen, did not return a phone message left at her office in East Grand Forks, Minn., and her cellphone’s voicemail was full.

Norberg’s wife had accused him in four instances of injecting her with propofol or using an ether-like substance on her without her knowledge and sexually assaulting her while she was unaware. The surgeon’s defense attorney argued that Alonna Norberg, who also is a doctor but is on disability, made up the allegations to gain the upper hand in their divorce and custody battle.

Jurors took less than four hours to reach an acquittal after a two-week trial in November. If Jon Norberg had been convicted, he faced a potential life prison term.

Testimony during the criminal trial revealed that Alonna Norberg had met with a divorce attorney the day before one of the nights on which she alleged her husband drugged and raped her. About three weeks later, July 8, 2011, she filed for the divorce Marquart granted in the judgment.

The North Dakota Board of Medical Examiners indefinitely suspended Jon Norberg’s medical license in January 2012 for administering propofol to his wife in their home without proper monitoring and special equipment. An anesthesiologist also testified that it was “improper and outlandish” that Norberg had sex with his wife while she was under sedation with propofol.

Jon Norberg said Friday that his attorney was working on a petition to the board to have his license suspension lifted.

“With the results from the divorce, some of that stuff is relevant to the board, so it will be included in that application,” he said.

Marquart also awarded Jon Norberg primary residential responsibility of the three children, all under the age of 14. Alonna Norberg “shall have reasonable parenting time” with the kids, according to the judgment, which includes a schedule in case the two parties can’t agree on a parenting time schedule.

The judgment, filed six weeks after the eight-day divorce trial that ended Jan. 30, gives both parents joint decision-making responsibility over the children.

Alonna Norberg, who received child support payments from Jon Norberg while the divorce case was pending, now will have to pay him $1,965 per month in child support, based on her annual disability income of $72,000, the judgment states.

A malpractice suit brought by Alonna Norberg against Jon Norberg two days after his acquittal is pending. The last filing in the case was on Dec. 17.

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