Netflix’s Abducted in Plain Sight is different from your standard true crime documentary. It is made up of one wild story after another about 12-year-old Jan Broberg who went missing when a family friend, Robert "B" Berchtold, abducted her one sunny afternoon in 1974. Once you recover from shock after watching the doc, you’re definitely going to wonder, did "B" ever go to prison? Abducted in Plain Sight details Broberg’s kidnapping, alleged sexual abuse, and years of continued brainwash after she was supposed to have cut ties with Berchtold.
In the documentary, Broberg and her mother explain that Berchtold was arrested on kidnapping charges after the first time he took Broberg. They said that after his wife threatened to expose the truth about Broberg’s mother’s year-long affair with Berchtold to the press unless they lessened the charges, Broberg’s parents agreed not to testify. Berchtold was still sentenced to five years in jail, but that was was later reduced to 45 days. Eventually, he spent a total of 10 days in jail. And afterward, Broberg alleges in the documentary, the abuse continued.
Broberg claimed in the documentary that she was sexually assaulted by Berchtold more than 200 times throughout the years following her initial kidnapping. After Broberg’s second kidnapping in 1976, Berchtold was arrested again on kidnapping charges. He wasn't convicted, however, and instead spent six months in a psychiatric hospital.
After Broberg finally told her parents about the wild story Berchtold had fed her about aliens needing the two of them to repopulate a dying alien race together, the family began to pick up the pieces. They filed a lifetime restraining order against Berchtold and he was out of their lives.
It wasn't until decades later as an adult that Broberg heard from Berchtold again. He showed up at a conference and book signing at Dixie State College in Utah in 2004. One of Broberg's volunteer security guards said that Berchtold asked him to pass out fliers disparaging everything Broberg had written in her book about Berchtold and the kidnappings and abuse. When the security guard walked away, Berchtold allegedly drove into him with his van. Berchtold was arrested shortly after. A year later, before he could be sentenced, he died of apparent suicide.
Although Berchtold was reprimanded throughout the years because of his crimes related to kidnapping Broberg and other unrelated charges, he was arguably sentenced lightly in view of everything he is alleged to have done. When you watch Abducted in Plain Sight, you can see how he apparently groomed Broberg for almost two years leading up to the first kidnapping and how he continued to seemingly manipulate and brainwash not only Broberg, but her parents too.
In the documentary, Broberg said that after she came out with her book, Stolen Innocence: The Jan Broberg Story, other women came forward to tell her that they too had been molested by Berchtold both before and after he came into Broberg’s life. It’s unclear, however, if he was prosecuted for those crimes or if he skirted the law as he had with his accused crimes against Broberg.
Other than a few brief stints in jail and a mental facility, it seems as though he managed to avoid serious prison time. Although Berchtold never seemed to serve real jail time for what he is alleged to have done, Broberg was able to move on and live her own life, which is the best ending you could hope for.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.