Ex-North Dakota lawmaker charged with traveling to Czech Republic for sex with minor

Ex-North Dakota lawmaker charged with traveling to Czech Republic for sex with minor

Jack Dura |  Associated Press

A retired state senator from North Dakota has been charged with traveling to Europe and paying to have sex with a minor and with receiving images depicting child abuse, according to a federal indictment.   

Longtime state Sen. Ray Holmberg, 79, was arrested Monday and released after pleading not guilty to one count of travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual activity and one count of receipt of child pornography in the U.S. District Court in Fargo. His trial is set for Dec. 5.

Prosecutors said Holmberg repeatedly traveled to Prague in the Czech Republic from June 2011 to November 2016 for the purpose of having sex with a minor. 

Holmberg served more than 45 years in the North Dakota Senate until he resigned last year after The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead revealed he exchanged dozens of text messages with a person who was jailed on charges related to child sexual abuse images. The indictment adds that Holmberg used aliases and received and attempted to receive images of child sexual abuse between Nov. 2012 and Mach 4 2013.

In November 2021, law enforcement searched his Grand Forks home, seizing video discs and additional items.

Holmberg’s attorney, Mark Friese, said authorities investigated Holmberg “for two years or more and allege nothing recent. The conduct they allege is from more than a decade ago.”

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Holmberg was released with conditions, and the judge did not require the posting of any bond, Friese said.

‘Only the negative things will be remembered’

Holmberg chaired the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, which writes budgets. In March 2022, he announced he wouldn’t seek reelection. He resigned in April 2022, stating that “recent news stories have become a distraction,” according to The Forum.

If Holmberg is convicted, his decades serving the public “will be forgotten about, and only the negative things will be remembered,” said former North Dakota Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, who served with Holmberg for nearly 25 years. 

Holmberg was reimbursed roughly $126,000 for nearly 70 out-of-state trips from 2013 through mid-April 2022 to places that included four dozen U.S. cities, Canada, Puerto Rico, and several European countries, according to an AP review of his travel records.

The indictment comes after Nicholas James Morgan-Derosier pleaded guilty last month in federal court to six counts of possessing images depicting child sexual abuse and one count of receiving and distributing such images.

Morgan-Derosier was the person texting with Holmberg from jail, according to The Forum.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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