A former longtime North Dakota lawmaker is charged with traveling to Prague with the intent to rape a minor, according to a federal indictment unsealed Monday.
Ex-Republican state Sen. Ray Holmberg was arrested Monday in Grand Forks, according to an arrest warrant. He is also charged with one count of receiving images depicting child sexual abuse, according to the indictment filed Thursday in federal court in North Dakota.
It accuses the 79-year-old Holmberg of traveling from his home state to the Czech Republic from about June 2011 to November 2016 with intent to rape a person under the age of 18. The other charge dates from about November 2012 to March 2013.
Holmberg served more than 45 years in the North Dakota Senate until his resignation last year, after local media outlet 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.
Holmberg’s attorney, Mark Friese, said he was not immediately available for comment. A text message sent to Holmberg was not immediately returned and voicemail on his phone was not set up, so a message could not be left.
Holmberg’s initial court appearance was scheduled for Monday afternoon. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in North Dakota planned to issue a new release and otherwise declined to comment, spokesperson Terry Van Horn said.
Holmberg, a retired school counselor, chaired the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, which writes budgets.
He 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, as well as China, Canada, Puerto Rico and several European countries, according to an Associated Press review of his travel records.
Law enforcement searched his Grand Forks home in November 2021, seizing video discs and additional items.
Holmberg announced in March 2022 he wouldn’t seek reelection. He cited stress and “a weakened ability to concentrate on the matters at hand and effectively recall events” before ultimately resigning.
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