State Supreme Court hears Norberg divorce appeal
BISMARCK – A Fargo doctor’s ex-wife who lost custody of the couple’s children after unsuccessfully claiming that he drugged and raped her while they were married has asked the state Supreme Court to overturn their divorce settlement.
Alonna Norberg argued through her attorney Thursday that East Central District Court Judge Steven Marquart was mistaken in dividing up her marital property with Dr. Jon Norberg and in giving him custody of their three children in the divorce.
Richard Ducote, Alonna Norberg’s attorney, told the court that Marquart should not have held that Jon Norberg’s Alford plea in a previous criminal case was unreliable.
Norberg entered the Alford plea in January 2012 in Cass County District Court to gross sexual imposition and reckless endangerment charges, admitting that there was enough evidence for a jury to find him guilty of giving his wife the sedative propofol, then having sex without her consent.
Defendants entering Alford pleas typically do not admit guilt.
Norberg withdrew his plea two months later and took the case to trial.
His attorney contended during the trial that the drugging and sexual activity were consensual between the couple, and that Alonna Norberg cooked up the criminal accusations to win custody of their children.
A jury acquitted Norberg, and he got his suspended medical license back late last year.
“Obviously this is a very bizarre case, a very unusual case,” Ducote told the court.
Ducote said he didn’t want to retry the November 2012 criminal trial but said the judge was illogical in finding that Alonna Norberg was not a credible witness.
“If we look at the reasons the judge uses not to believe her … (because) she admitted at some point she liked the kind of sexual activity reported, why’d he have to drug her?” Ducote asked.
Susan Ellison, Jon Norberg’s attorney, argued that Marquart found misconduct on Alonna Norberg’s part in falsely accusing her husband, which led to her husband’s suspension, extensive legal fees and foreclosure of the couple’s home.
Ellison told justices that because Jon Norberg testified in only the divorce proceeding and not in the criminal case, Marquart was the only fact-finder in the two trials who had seen both Norbergs testify.
“His story did not change,” Ellison said of Jon Norberg.
The court has taken the case under advisement.