Jan Broberg survived being abducted twice by a man who posed as a family friend – now she wants people to look out for the telltale signs.
The 60-year-old was the subject of the shocking documentary that became available to stream on Netflix titled “Abducted in Plain Sight.” Today, she is involved with Peacock’s scripted series “A Friend of the Family.” The show tells the real-life story of her multiple kidnappings during the ‘70s and the sexual abuse she endured by neighbor Robert Berchtold.
The streaming service is releasing a new documentary on Nov. 15 titled “A Friend of the Family: True Evil,” where Broberg speaks to other alleged victims for the first time.
“I want people to understand how grooming happens, how this predator entered our lives,” Broberg told Fox News Digital. “It was a slow burn over many years. He appeared as a family man. We met him at church with his five children and his wife. He didn’t look like a predator. And that is true of most people… Predators are people that we tend to know. I wanted people to start conversations about this really important subject. My family and I spoke out in hopes that people will share their own stories and root out the evil that’s living inside their homes, their congregations, their communities.”
NETFLIX’S ‘KILLER SALLY’ DETAILS WHY SALLY MCNEIL SHOT HER BODYBUILDING CHAMP HUSBAND: ‘A CYCLE OF VIOLENCE’
“A predator could take the form of your favorite coach, schoolteacher, someone we love and trust,” she shared. “And it can be very subtle… Turning away from the reality that this happens is the first mistake we tend to make. We tend to think, ‘Oh, that could never happen to us.’ It most certainly can.
“To me, one of the greatest problems we have today is that we don’t encourage conversations to happen. The moment a young child is not believed or not encouraged to talk… the more likely that problem stays inside and continues. This problem lives in a secret chamber in the darkness. But if we can uplift people, and tell them, ‘We are going to support you. We believe you. We won’t blame you,’ then that’s the first step to healing.”
Berchtold and his family moved to the Brobergs’ middle-class neighborhood in Pocatello, Idaho, in 1972. The families quickly became friends and Berchtold, known as “B,” was considered as family. However, in the fall of 1974, Berchtold kidnapped then-12-year-old Broberg. Instead of taking her horseback riding as he promised, he whisked her off in an RV. Broberg previously shared that as she was tied down, she heard a strange voice speaking through a speaker. Berchtold convinced Broberg that they were abducted by aliens, and she needed to comply with their demands if she wanted her family to stay safe.
The FBI found the pair weeks later. Berchtold was arrested and convicted of kidnapping. However, his sentence was reduced from five years to 45 days. According to reports, he ended up spending 10 days behind bars. Berchtold managed to convince Broberg’s family to drop the most serious charges against him.
IDAHO WOMAN RECALLS ESCAPING SERIAL KILLER JOSEPH DUNCAN IN DOC: ‘HOW LONG AM I GOING TO BE ALIVE?’
Two years later, Berchtold kidnapped Broberg again, when she was 14 years old. In the initial documentary, viewers learned that Berchtold engaged in separate sexual relationships with her parents and blackmailed them.
Broberg admitted it was difficult to watch a reenactment of Berchtold convincing her father to perform a sexual act on him for the scripted series. When the initial documentary was released, Broberg’s parents were accused of allowing their daughter to be taken advantage of.
Broberg said the criticism wounded the already hurt family, especially her father, Robert Broberg. The patriarch passed away in 2018 at age 80.
“That was hard on me because I have such remarkable, honest, brave, vulnerable and exposed parents who were willing to tell the truth, the whole ugly truth,” she said while fighting back tears. “And honestly, I had such a perfect childhood, until the day I woke up strapped to a bed in a motor home kidnapped by my family’s best friend, who then sexually abused and raped me.
NETFLIX’S ‘OUR FATHER’: FILM EXPLORES TRAUMA CAUSED BY INDIANA FERTILITY DOCTOR WHO IMPREGNATED HIS PATIENTS
“It’s upsetting when people place blame on the wrong people. My parents were great. They were attentive, loved their children and were willing to do anything for them… The blame placed on my parents is absolutely misplacement. The person that should be blamed is the perpetrator. That’s the person who did the damage. That’s the person who psychologically led me, my parents, my congregation, and my community to love him, trust him, believe him. He just looked like every nice guy at church.”
Broberg noted that her father suffered from “a lot of guilt” years later.
“He felt that he made such a terrible error in judgment,” she said. “And the truth is, we all make mistakes. But my dad had a lot of guilt because of his own beliefs. He was a very moral person, a very spiritual person. He wanted to always do the right thing… It was always very hard for him to talk about those things that he had done… I don’t think he ever completely forgave himself for that.”
Looking back, Broberg said that “hope” gave her strength as a child.
SON OF POLYGAMOUS CULT LEADER WARREN JEFFS SPEAKS OUT IN DOC: ‘WE WERE BRAINWASHED’
“I was lucky enough to have a father who told us several times a day that there’s always something to be grateful for,” she explained. “We grew up feeling that we should always look for the positive. The faith that my parents instilled in me helped me to hope. And then it helped me to recover in the aftermath.”
When Berchtold was caught and arrested, he was sent to a psychiatric hospital. According to reports, he only stayed for a few months. In 2003, Broberg and her mother, Mary Ann Broberg, wrote a book titled “Stolen Innocence” about their experiences. As they went on tour, Berchtold denied the claims made against him. Broberg eventually filed a restraining order after he attempted to crash one of her public speaking events. He was later found guilty of simple assault, criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct after getting into an altercation with a Bikers Against Child Abuse demonstrator.
Berchtold took his life in 2005 at age 69 before he was due to be sentenced, Oxygen reported.
“I was filled with a whole gamut of emotions, from relief to deep sadness,” Broberg admitted. “Not just for myself and what he represented in my life, but to the other girls he harmed. I knew of others by this point. I wasn’t the first and I wasn’t his Last. And then I felt for his children and family. What a difficult and horrible realization that must be… This was a parent who was a monster behind a smile… For several days I cried. Then I was angry… He never really paid the consequences on this Earth for what he did to me. I guess I only take comfort in knowing that I have been able to let it go and forgive him. He’ll now have to deal with whatever’s in the afterlife.”
IDAHO MAN RECALLS HOW ‘EVIL’ ESTRANGED WIFE, A FORMER NURSE, COMMITTED MURDER IN DOC: ‘I FELT DISGUSTED’
Broberg said that connecting with other survivors of abuse has helped her address the past. She has launched The Jan Broberg Foundation, which provides resources to those who have been sexually abused. Broberg also hosts a podcast where she interviews experts.
“I’m so happy and fulfilled with the things I’m doing in my life,” said Broberg. “I want people to know they’re not alone… I’ve had the support of my family and therapists. And I think in telling my story, I can help others do the same… there is life on the other side.”
If you or someone you know is suffering from abuse, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.