Fargo, ND – The trial of Dr. Jon Norberg on charges of gross sexual imposition, a Class AA felony punishable by up to life in prison, and reckless endangerment a Class C felon carrying a maximum penalty of five years, began with jury selection on Nov. 5th and will go to the jury tomorrow for deliberation after closing arguments. The charges stem from allegations made by his wife, Alonna, who is also a physician, that Norberg drugged her against her will with the sedative/anesthetic propofol (Diprivan) and then had sex with her unconscious body without her consent. She has testified that oral, vaginal and anal sex took place. Today the defense rested its case without calling Norberg to the stand.
Before wrapping up its case the defense called psychiatrist Dr. Harjinder Virdee, who did not have anything flattering to say about Alonna Norberg. Virdee said she spent between 100-150 hours (rather an imprecise number for an expert witness who charged the defense $300 per hour one might point out) reviewing “boxes and boxes” of Alonna Norberg’s medical records “that were all over the place.” She also interviewed Alonna for 4½-hours, which she said is about three times longer than the typical interview she does. The defense retained Dr. Virdee as an expert for an independent examination of Alonna Norberg and paid her $300 per hour for her work, she testified. Yes….she made at least $30,000 and up to $45,000 for her review of the medical records and opinions. The surprise is her interviews do not last many hour$ more!
Virdee said that while most sexual abuse victims don’t want to go into detail about what happened to them, Alonna Norberg went into graphic detail. “In my 35 years of practice as a doctor, this way of spontaneous, meticulously detailed, graphic details that she gave is inconsistent with a sexually abused person I have seen,” she said. Law med would question whether this is in fact true of sexual assault victims who have come forward to police on their own with the resolve to have their assailant punished. Patient’s in a psychiatrists office for therapy who talk about sexual abuse they have suffered are not the same in their openness regarding the details of the experience.
That is not to say that Alonna Norberg does not have some, well, unique patient characteristics. Virdee said she found a total of 15 psychiatric diagnoses documented for Alonna Norberg in her medical records. They included depression, anxiety, chronic pain, dependence on opiate, obsessive-compulsive disorder and histrionic and narcissistic personality traits. With the irony possibly lost on Dr. Virdee, she added a couple of her own: somatization disorder, in which the patient has physical symptoms – including pain – but no cause can be found, and the sometimes related factitious disorder, where the patient intentionally produces or feigns the symptoms.
“They just want somebody to come and help them,” Virdee said. “They cannot believe that it’s attributable to a mental disorder. They’ll usually tell you, ‘There’s nothing wrong with my head and I’m not coming to see you.’ ” Virdee says Alonna Norberg has had hundreds of medical tests that have mostly come back negative.
“And yet people were convinced something’s wrong, and they’re not just finding it because she is very bright. She’s very intelligent, and she’s a physician. She has a specialized knowledge of medicine,” said Virdee. “If you go through her medical notes, there umpteen diagnoses on the records,” Virdee told the jury. “It jumps from thing to another, from one visit to the next. She is ill. She is psychiatrically ill.”
There were other witnesses who described Norberg as attention seeking and fixated on her medical ailments. “As life progressed, babies-things like that, it became worse and worse,” said Jon Norberg’s sister-in-law, Kori Norberg. “Her medical conditions became worse and worse. What she needed from everybody else became worse and worse.”
“It was continuous and when you would try to change the subject, she would being the conversation back to her,” testified one of the Norberg’s neighbors, Julie Friederichs.
However, a Sanford Health psychologist who treated Alonna Norberg for more than a year and a half testified that he disagreed with Virdee’s diagnosis and didn’t believe Alonna Norberg was either seeking attention or being untruthful. “I did not have that impression, no,” said Larry Bauste, who was called as a rebuttal witness by the prosecution.
On cross-examination by prosecutor Reid Brady, Virdee acknowledged she was the only psychiatrist to have diagnosed Alonna Norberg with factitious disorder. “I’m the only doctor who reviewed all the records, as well,” she claimed.
According to Virdee, medical records indicate Alonna was on as many as 50 medications at once. “She was on 20, 30, 40, 50, never less than 20 medications.” Dr. Virdee said. “In my 35 years of practice; I’ve never seen a patient on 50 medications.” “Her credibility is very low,” Dr. Virdee said about Alonna Norberg. And with THAT statement she communicated to the jury the message the defense wanted to get across. ‘Mentally ill liar on drugs’ is their defense in a nut shell.
A problem remains for the defense however. Jon Norberg has stated in a sworn affidavit that he injected his wife with propofol at least 30 times over 18 months. This is FAR MORE times that Alonna Norberg even alleges. From the testimony we are aware of, she has described either 5 or 6 occasions, including 3 she consented to in the beginning, at her husband’s suggestion for treatment of her chronic pain (which Jon Norberg does not deny). No matter where you come down on the sexual assault charges, Norberg is guilty of reckless endangerment. ANYONE who administers propofol to someone at home, much less without any monitors and required equipment, is ALWAYS guilty of reckless endangerment. In theory anyway since a jury can do whatever they want basically.
Law Med’s verdict would be guilty on all charges, however we predict that Norberg will be found not guilty of the gross sexual imposition and guilty of reckless endangerment. Guilty on all charges is our second most likely pick. Yet this case could truly be decided in ANY manner open to the jury, including not guilty of all charges. One highly unlikely scenario would be guilty of gross sexual imposition and not guilty of reckless endangerment.
Alonna Norberg has said she allowed her husband to inject her with the powerful sedative Diprivan three times to alleviate her pain from Sjogren’s syndrome, a rare immune system disorder, and to help her sleep, but that she told him to stop using the drug when she found out Diprivan was the brand name for propofol. The defense contends Alonna Norberg made false allegations to gain the upper hand in the divorce case she was planning.
After one or two prosecution rebuttal witnesses, the case will go to the jury, most likely by Tuesday afternoon. Verdict before thanksgiving? Not unlikely.
Video from ValleyNewsLive.com
For all of our coverage on the Norberg Propofol Rape Trial see our special Norberg Trial Page.
, Dr. Jon Norberg
, North Dakota
, Dr. Virdee
, closing arguments