Idaho News

Netflix documentary shows how sexual predator tormented Idaho girl, family for years

Robert Berchtold, a husband and father, was an affable, charming man. Everybody in the Broberg family adored him, and the children saw him as a second father.

The two Mormon families, who lived in the same Pocatello neighborhood in the 1970s, spent much time together and attended The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

But Berchtold, then 40, had an agenda: He was sexually fixated on 12-year-old Jan Broberg. He convinced her parents to allow him to sleep in her bed as some sort of therapy, and then later kidnapped her, took her to Mexico and forced her to marry him.

How he did that, escaping any serious punishment, is shocking viewers of the 90-minute Netflix documentary “Abducted in Plain Sight.”

“The film documents a tragedy so incomprehensible, audiences don’t know how to react,” according to VICE.

Adam Forsgren, a columnist for, described it as “a disturbing story full of betrayed trust that may shake your faith in humanity.”

The film, which came out in 2017 but only recently got picked up by Netflix, features interviews with Broberg family members, Berchtold’s brother and an FBI agent who worked the case, interspersed with re-enactments of what happened.

Jan Broberg describes how she was brainwashed into believing that aliens wanted her to have a child with Berchtold, and there would be terrible consequences for her family if she didn’t comply or if she talked about it with anyone. It became her “mission,” she said.

Berchtold pleaded guilty to a federal kidnapping charge, and he was sentenced to five years in prison; all but 45 days were suspended.

In 1976, he kidnapped her again, and then covertly enrolled her in a Catholic boarding school in Pasadena, California. He told the nuns that he was her father and that he was in the CIA.

Berchtold was committed to a mental facility, but released about six months later.

In 2003, Jan’s mother, Mary Ann Broberg, published a book about her daughter’s terrible ordeal titled “Stolen Innocence: The Jan Broberg Story.”

Berchtold showed up at a book promotion event in Utah in 2004. He was arrested and charged with simple assault, criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct, according to The Associated Press. He committed suicide by overdosing on heart medications to avoid going to jail, his brother said in the documentary. (Read his obituary here).

Now 56, Jan Broberg Felt recounted Berchtold’s crimes against her to the Idaho State Journal in 2016 — she was promoting a Kickstarter campaign to fund a documentary. The film was directed by Skye Borgman.

“I read the [Mary Ann Broberg] book and all the circumstances seemed so unbelievable,” Borgman told the Idaho State Journal. “Even though the story happened over 40 years ago, it’s still very relevant today.”

Borgman told VICE earlier this year that the book left out some key details needed to help understand Berchtold’s power over Jan’s parents: He had seduced both of them.

Broberg Felt is an author and actress. She has appeared in movies, such as “Iron Man 3,” and on numerous TV shows, including “Criminal Minds.” She’s currently on theTruTV show “I’m Sorry.”