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I watched 'Abducted In Plain Sight' and I have some questions

Excuse me while I scream internally.

Spoilers ahead for Netflix true crime doc Abducted In Plain Sight! 

CW: This article makes reference to acts of sexual violence and pedophilia.

AS AN ENTERTAINMENT genre, true crime continues to dominate. We’ve seen it with the Ted Bundy Tapes, the upcoming Zac-Efron led biopic and the equally controversial Oscar-nominated Detainment

382341d3f176d7870c7499f4d25641be Jan Broberg and Robert Berchtold Source: Netflix

Another new addition to Netflix’s roster last month was Abducted In Plain Sight, the true story of how Jan Broberg was abducted, brainwashed and repeatedly raped by family friend Robert “B” Berchtold.

Strap yourselves in for this one folks as the story goes from zero to batshit before your very eyes.

Source: Skye Borgman/YouTube

First off, why did they ever leave Berchtold alone with Jan?

The path the story sets out is a grimly familar one – Berchtold befriended Broberg’s parents, Bob and Mary Ann, through their Mormon Church. He convinced them to let him take their eldest daughter out, not once but twice, as well as sleep in her bed “for therapeutic reasons”.

Jan was 12 at this point. Twelve. Years of age. Hanging out. With a 40 year-old married man. 

Then, there’s the whole issue of Berchtold manipulating Jan’s parents into having sexual affairs with him.

Listen, of course we know now it was to get access to Jan and it’s basically a method straight out of Serial Criminal 101. But you’d also be forgiven for rewinding the doc 800 times before admitting that, no, you did hear that right – Bob did give Berchtold a hand job in a car after he asked them too. 

Also, had nobody in the family heard that expression, “Fool me once, shame on you …?”

The first (!) abduction took place in 1974, in which Berchtold allegedly built a relationship with Broberg and convinced her that they needed to have a child together in order to save an alien planet.

After a nationwide search for Jan, the family found it in their hearts to forgive him. Yeah, listen, don’t worry about it, it’s not as if he had just TOOK THEIR DAUGHTER TO MEXICO IN A CAMPERVAN WITHOUT LETTING THEM KNOW. (The original story was that they were going horseback riding – once again, an extremely normal proposal from a married man for a 12 YEAR OLD CHILD.)

Perhaps you’re also wondering “why didn’t they call the FBI straight away when she didn’t turn up at home?” Well, they didn’t want to upset Berchtold’s wife, naturally. You’d imagine she would’ve found the actual happenings more upsetting, but clearly not.

Oh and as it turns out, the FBI was closed when they eventually did put a call in. Handy that, isn’t it? As my housemate so aptly put it, “Ireland couldn’t keep Good Friday but the body responsible for locating missing children closes on Saturdays? Some Sabbath.” 

After securing their forgiveness – two years after the initial abduction – Berchtold convinced Broberg to meet him in the middle of the night. Her family did not see her again for three months.

Then, Broberg rang her sister from a Catholic school which Berchtold had enrolled her in under the guise of being his daughter, while he hid out in his camper van covered in pictures of his child bride.

At this point, it’s important to stress that Broberg’s mother, Mary Ann seemingly still had a thing for him too …

… Opting to sleep with him after the initial abduction. For eight months. I could keep going, but rest assured the theme of it being “stranger than fiction” continues.

In 2003, Mary Ann wrote a book about the ordeal, which is currently being hammered by 1 star reviews on Amazon following the doc’s revelations (though they have both freely admitted that there actions were, for want of a better word, completely thick.)

Overall, Berchtold spent about 10 days in jail as punishment for his crimes.

The word “shook” is overused in today’s world, but it’s pretty appropriate here. Berchtold received a suspended sentence which results in the short jail time.

He continued to stalk the family and tried to contact Jan before they eventually filed for a stalking injunction in 2004.

And while we’re here – what was the story with his brother?

The documentary is mainly made up of talking head interviews with the Broberg family, an FBI agent assigned to the case and Berchtold’s brother, Joe.

During his interview, Joe said: ”My brother was always a sexual pervert. He always did like his little girls.”

Weird that you’d always know something like that and not think to … Do something … With that information?! (He did contact the police when he learned that Berchtold had married Broberg in Mexico, where the legal age is 12.)

See? Every time you think it can’t get crazier, it does.

Trust me when I say that if and when you choose to watch Abducted In Plain Sight, you will do so while resembling the ‘White Guy Blinking’ GIF throughout.


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