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Man's sexual assault claim surfaces amid scrutiny of North Dakota lawmaker

When contacted by Forum News Service earlier this week, Sen. Ray Holmberg declined to comment and directed all inquiries to his new attorney, Mark Friese of the Vogel Law Firm in Fargo.

010819.n.fns.forecast John Hageman photo
Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks, addresses members of the North Dakota House and Senate appropriations committees on Jan. 7, 2019.
Forum News Service file photo
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MINOT, N.D. — A 2020 Twitter thread about an alleged sexual assault has risen to the surface as a North Dakota lawmaker faces growing scrutiny.

Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks, announced on Wednesday, April 20, that he was resigning as chairman of the Legislative Management committee .

That announcement came in the wake of a story by The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead that Holmberg had been exchanging texts with a man jailed on child pornography charges .

Holmberg, 78, had previously announced that he was retiring this year after a record-setting 44-year tenure in the North Dakota Legislature.

When contacted by Forum News Service earlier this week, Holmberg declined to comment and directed all inquiries to his new attorney, Mark Friese of the Vogel Law Firm in Fargo.

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“We’re investigating this,” Friese said in an interview Monday, April 18. “That the two were acquainted and spent time together is not in dispute. Any accusations of inappropriate behavior we dispute.”

In the Twitter thread, a former North Dakota resident alleges that he was sexually assaulted by Holmberg in 2010, after Holmberg invited the man to stay at his condominium in Florida.

Caton Todd’s thread was apparently ignored when it was posted in January 2020. As of Friday, April 22, the thread has received no likes, replies or retweets in the more than two years it has been online. Todd has just a few followers on Twitter.

In a phone interview with Forum News Service, Todd said he met Holmberg through a mutual friend in 2009. He said they stayed in touch and the two became friends.

Todd said that, in 2010, Holmberg invited him to spend time at a Miami-area condo that Holmberg owned. Holmberg even offered to pay for the trip, something he ultimately followed through on.

Asked if Holmberg denied inviting Todd to visit him in Florida, attorney Friese on Wednesday, April 20, said, “No, not at all.” Friese also confirmed to Forum News Service that Holmberg owned a condo in the Miami area at that time.

Todd told FNS that he has not had contact with Holmberg since 2010.

In 2020, using the #metoo hashtag on Twitter, Todd tagged several national news outlets. But nobody contacted him until now, he said.

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The thread gained attention after The Forum story was published online April 15.

In August, Holmberg exchanged 72 text messages over two days with Nicholas James Morgan-Derosier, who at the time was in custody at the Grand Forks County jail on suspicion of child pornography and sex abuse crimes . That information came via a public records request from The Forum to the jail.

Rob Port is a columnist, news reporter and podcast host for Forum News Service. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com .

Related Topics: NORTH DAKOTARAY HOLMBERG
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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