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Judge OKs Norberg rape trial as defense claims prosecutors 'in cahoots' with wife's divorce lawyer

Dr. Jon Norberg, center, along with defense attorney Robert Hoy, left, exits the preliminary hearing Wednesday on the gross sexual imposition charge he faces in Cass County District Court in Fargo. Carrie Snyder / The Forum

FARGO - A judge this morning ruled there is probable cause to bind Fargo doctor Jon Norberg over for a jury trial on charges that he drugged and raped his wife, despite a passionate plea by Norberg's attorney that the case should be dismissed.

Defense attorney Robert Hoy told Judge Douglas 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."

He 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 she was on the powerful sedative propofol, which he's accused of administering to her.

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 said.

After Herman issued his decision, Jon Norberg entered not guilty pleas to the felony charges of gross sexual imposition and reckless endangerment. If convicted of gross sexual imposition, Norberg would face a minimum of five years in prison and the possibility of a life term.

Norberg's trial is set for Aug. 28.

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.