Justice Department charges former North Dakota politician in child sex abuse case

Former North Dakota Sen Ray Holmberg  (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Former North Dakota Sen Ray Holmberg (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

A former North Dakota state senator who resigned after it was discovered that he had texted with a man accused of possessing images of child sexual abuse has now been charged himself.

Ray Holmberg, a Republican who had been in office since 1976, was one of the country’s longest-serving state lawmakers when he resigned in 2022. That resignation came after he was allegedly found to have had extensive communications with Nicholas Morgan-Derosier, who pleaded guilty in September to child sex abuse charges and is now awaiting sentencing.

The 79-year-old former member of the state Senate is now facing two counts: Possession of images depicting the sexual abuse of a minor, and travelling with the intent of engaging in illegal sexual activity.

Mr Holmberg was set to be formally arraigned on Monday, according to Grand Forks news station KVRR, which first reported the unsealing of charges against the former politician.

He had previously dismissed news stories about his communications with Mr Morgan-Derosier as a “distraction” that prevented him from serving the public effectively.

“Recent news stories have become a distraction for the important work of the legislative assembly during its interim meetings,” Mr Holmberg told The Washington Post in April of last year. “I want to do what I can, within my power, to lessen such distractions.”