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Norberg found not guilty on all charges

FARGO - After a two-week trial, a jury took less than four hours today to acquit Fargo surgeon Jon Norberg on charges accusing him of drugging and sexually assaulting his wife.

The jury of seven women and five men began deliberations in Cass County District Court at 8:30 a.m. today before returning the verdict at about 1:05 p.m.

Jon Norberg had faced a lifetime prison term if he was convicted of the Class AA felony charge of gross sexual imposition, as well as five years in prison if he were convicted of reckless endangerment, a Class C felony. Jurors found him not guilty on both charges as well as lesser charges on each count that they were required to considered.

Norberg showed little emotion when the verdict was read, other than deeply exhaling in apparent relief.

The emotions flowed soon after, however. The surgeon's brother cried and then hugged Jon Norberg, who also embraced his West Fargo defense attorney, Robert Hoy.

"I felt like they finally, that they understood that I was telling the truth and that this is just a sad thing overall and that this is about divorce and custody and it's not about what she said," he told reporters.

Alonna Norberg, his wife, had accused Norberg of injecting her with a powerful sedative without her knowledge and sexually assaulting her while she was unaware on two nights in June of last year.

The defense argued that Alonna Norberg made up the allegations against her husband because she wanted custody of their children as part of a still-pending divorce and that she knew she wouldn't get custody because of her dependency on prescription drugs and other issues.

Hoy said they were "very pleased" with the verdict and that it's been a long 18 months for Norberg.

"It's going to be a truly, very happy Thanksgiving for Jon Norberg and his family," said Hoy, who added the jury deliberations were shorter than he expected.

The case was difficult, said lead prosecutor Gary Euren after the verdict was handed down.

"It was obvious from the beginning it was basically a he-said she-said case, and those are always very difficult, especially with juries," said Euren, an assistant Cass County state's attorney.

Though The Forum does not usually identify alleged victims of sexual assaults, Alonna Norberg consented to be named to contest her husband's claims that she gave him permission to use propofol on her and that he never sexually abused her.