Fargo surgeon in divorce case grilled on witness stand
FARGO -- More than two months after being acquitted of drugging and sexually assaulting his wife, Jon Norberg was finally called as a court witness Tuesday -- as a hostile witness testifying for his wife's attorney in the couple's divorce case.
At stake in the divorce case that began Jan. 14 is the custody of the Norbergs' children and how they will divide their assets.
North Dakota state law says that the children must weigh domestic violence more heavily than any of the other twelve factors under consideration when determining custody, and in civil court, evidence is determined by a preponderance of evidence -- a less stringent standard than in criminal cases.
Alonna Norberg's attorney Patti Jensen covered some of the same ground as the criminal case did, asking Jon Norberg if he'd had oxygen, an EKG monitor or a blood pressure monitor available at their home during those times he admitted to giving his wife the sedative propofol, then having sex with her.
Jon Norberg said he had only the blood pressure cuff, but didn't use it because it wasn't necessary, as his wife was awake the whole time.
"Bit hard to take someone's blood pressure when you're having sex with them, isn't it?" asked Jensen, over the objections of Jon Norberg's attorney.
Under repeated questions from Jensen about whether he'd ever told anyone Alonna Norberg had asked him to stop using propofol on her, Norberg said, "I can answer your question shortly and say she never, ever, ever said, 'Don't give me propofol.'"
Norberg said the drugs in question, also including the sedative sevoflurane, were ones he had taken from the Plastic Surgery Institute -- the business where he worked as an orthopedic surgeon, and which was named in a medical malpractice lawsuit filed by Alonna Norberg two days after Norberg's acquittal.
Jensen also questioned Jon Norberg about what he admitted were extramarital affairs with two different women during the time he and Alonna were married. He admitted he had taken his children to one of the women's homes at one point in order to use the bathroom.
"Wouldn't you say that children learn by example... and that infidelity is setting a bad example for them?" Jensen asked.
Under North Dakota law, morality of the parent is one of the thirteen factors in determining a child's best interests, according to Fargo divorce attorney Jane Sundby.
Norberg was less adamant on the question of whether or not he had ever videotaped his wife having sex with him without her consent.
"It's not a yes or no question," he said.
Jon Norberg said he hadn't asked Alonna's permission before recording her, because they had talked about it before but "she thought she was too fat," he said. Then, later, he admitted he had not asked her specifically before taping her, adding that she had lost some weight.
Jon Norberg testified he hadn't met some court-ordered financial obligations toward his wife and children, including the mortgage on their house, her car payments and his children's school tuition.
"I've done what I could. I've paid the health insurance, child support," in part by drawing on a retirement account, the sale of two empty lots in Osgood and the sale of his medical practice to Sanford Health.
Jon Norberg, whose medical license was suspended indefinitely in December 2011 for drugging his wife in their home, told the court he had pursued jobs that didn't require a license during that time, but no one was interested in hiring him while the criminal charges were pending.
Once that case was resolved, he said he was hired as a consultant for three different companies, two involving the medical field and one in marketing. He also testified he is taking steps to regain his North Dakota medical license.
Though Forum News Service 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.
The case is expected to wrap up on today.
Judge Steven Marquart will take the case under advisement and issue a ruling at a later date.