Trial rescheduled for April for former N.D. lawmaker accused of traveling for sex with minor

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A federal judge has rescheduled the trial for a former North Dakota lawmaker accused of traveling to Prague with the intent of paying for sex with a minor.

Former Republican state senator Ray Holmberg, 79, of Grand Forks, was indicted last month and set for trial on Dec. 5. His attorney on Monday asked to hold off for time to review documents and prepare Holmberg's defense. Federal prosecutors did not object, according to his motion.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland rescheduled Holmberg’s jury trial to begin April 29 in Fargo, expected to last five days.

All parties expected the postponement, defense attorney Mark Friese told The Associated Press. The trial was initially scheduled to begin a little over a month after Holmberg's initial appearance, following a two-year investigation, he said.

“It's very common. ... He's entitled to be able to take a look at what they've been looking at,” Friese said.

Holmberg also is accused of receiving images depicting child sexual abuse. The indictment against him was unsealed Oct. 30. He has pleaded not guilty. He was released with conditions.

Holmberg served over 45 years in the North Dakota Senate. He resigned last year in the wake of The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead reporting on dozens of text messages he exchanged with a man in jail on charges related to images of child sexual abuse.

The former senator was one of the Legislature's more powerful lawmakers. He chaired the Senate Appropriations Committee, which wrote budgets, and a top legislative panel that guides the Legislature between its biennial sessions.

Holmberg made dozens of state-funded trips throughout the U.S. and the world in the last decade. His travels included at least three trips to Prague in the Czech Republic and to other European cities funded by the state and arranged through the Global Bridges teacher exchange program. It's unclear whether the alleged conduct occurred during those trips.

The retired school counselor worked for Grand Forks Public Schools from 1967 to 2002. He also was a teacher and a child find coordinator.