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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Defense rests without calling Norberg to stand

  • Last witnesses differ on Alonna Wagner's condition.
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  • Lawyers for a Fargo surgeon accused of drugging and sexually assaulting his wife rested their case Monday without calling the defendant to the stand.
    Dr. Jon Norberg is accused of injecting Dr. Alonna Norberg with the anesthetic propofol and having sex with her while she was unconscious. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of gross sexual imposition and reckless endangerment.
    Prosecutors have said that Jon Norberg gave his wife a drug she knew nothing about so he could have sex with her. Defense attorneys said the couple agreed on propofol to help Alonna Norberg with chronic pain, and she made up the rape allegations to help her in a looming divorce and child custody case.
    Prosecutors are scheduled to continue with rebuttal witnesses Tuesday, the ninth day of testimony.
    The last defense witness was Dr. Harjinder Virdee, a psychiatrist who testified that Alonna Norberg, a former pediatrician, suffers from numerous mental health disorders — anxiety, depression, mood, chemical dependency and narcissism, among others.
    "Her credibility's very low," Virdee said.
    Virdee said she diagnosed Norberg with disorders that lead her to fabricate symptoms for various illnesses and not accept a psychiatric explanation when doctors can't find or fix the problem.
    "Even if it was proven all negative, she would have a whole new set of circumstances for a new illness," Virdee said.
    Prosecutor Reid Brady questioned Virdee on why she was the first and only doctor to diagnose Norberg with factitious disorder, which causes a patient to intentionally produce symptoms.
    "I am the only doctor to review all the records as well," Virdee said.
    The psychiatrist said she spent 100 to 150 hours — at $300 an hour — sorting through Norberg's medical records, which she referred to as a maze. Virdee said Norberg did most of the talking during a 4 1/2-hour interview, at which time she explained the alleged sexual abuse in 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," Virdee said.
    Virdee said her review showed that Norberg was never on fewer than 20 medications and was taking as many as 50.
    Norberg has said she allowed her husband to inject her with Diprivan to alleviate the pain of an immune system disorder, but ordered him to stop when she found out it was the same drug as propofol.
    Propofol gained notoriety in the trial of the doctor who treated pop star Michael Jackson, which is how Virdee said she heard about the drug.
    Judge Douglas Herman called for a break after Virdee's testimony, after which defense attorney Robert Hoy told the court his case was complete.
    The Associated Press typically does not identify alleged victims of sex crimes but Alonna Norberg has spoken publically about the case.
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