True crime documentary Abducted in Plain Sight has become one of the most talked about programmes to ever stream on Netflix.
The feature length documentary tells the story of Jan Broberg, now 56, when she was kidnapped by a neighbour in 1974 – twice. She says Robert Berchtold brainwashed her into believing she had been abducted by aliens when he took her to Mexico and he was so close to the family, they refused to see it as a kidnapping. She was 12 years old. He took her again when she was 14 years old and the extraordinary circumstances around which he was able to integrate himself so closely with the family – including having a sexual relationship with both of her parents – generated a huge response from viewers.
“My parents were groomed and manipulated for two and a half years,” Jan told Entertainment Tonight. “This family was…they were our best friends. He was our best friend. So, the first thing I want to say is when you put it in context, two and a half years to build ultimate trust with individual members of a family is something that happens slowly, but it happens because you’re frequently with those people.”
She clarified her parents actions and said that Robert was no longer allowed into their home after her father Bob never trusted him fully after the first kidnapping
“I want people to put themselves in my parents’ shoes,” she said. “First of all, it’s the ’70s. They don’t know what a pedophile is, so there is some naivety there, but my parents weren’t stupid.”
“It was just my mother who he had been working on for maybe three, almost now four years, you know. My mother, who has had a crush on him, you know, been infatuated with him for many years now, he really does the dirty work on her.”
She did, however, want one element of the documentary to be removed -notably that Robert was allowed to share a bed with Jan because a therapist told him it would help him cope with his childhood trauma.
“That is one part of the documentary that I want to be changed because he did not sleep inside of my bed,” Jan says. “He laid on the top of my bed just like Mom, Dad, or anybody else when I’m nine, 10, or 11, reading a story, tickling backs, you fall asleep. I was asleep, he had told my parents, ‘I have these tapes I was given by this psychiatrist. I’m supposed to lay by a child who was the same age as I was when I was abused as a kid.”
She said her father, who died last year, was humiliated by the experience and never forgave himself for his role in her abuse. Her mother retrained as a social worker and she says they “worked really hard to try and make up for their indiscretion.”
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