Woman kidnapped twice, forced to marry at age 12

Banfield

(NewsNation) — In the 1970s, Jan Broberg endured a bizarre kidnapping, which included marriage to her neighbor Robert Berchtold.

Berchtold, who was a local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints leader, drugged and brainwashed Broberg when she was just 12 years old. He told her she had been abducted by aliens and that if she didn’t have his baby, her sister would go blind and her father would be murdered. Berchtold allegedly raped Broberg hundreds of times.

The pair was eventually found in Mexico, and Broberg was taken home. Berchtold spent 45 days in prison. And two years later, he kidnapped Broberg a second time. Broberg was finally rescued by the FBI in Pasadena, California. Berchtold was sent to a mental health facility.

Broberg shared her story Thursday on NewsNation’s “Banfield” and explained that people don’t understand the extent to which a perpetrator will go to groom a family so they can prey upon the victim.

Despite what happened to her, Broberg believes she was one of the lucky ones.

“I had a wonderful childhood up until the moment that this man strapped me to a bed, kidnapped me and took me to Mexico,” she said. “Those first 12 years of my life were spent riding our bikes and doing all the things kids do. And he was like a favorite uncle. We learned how to cook and do ceramics from his kids. We’re all best friends. We never had any reason to suspect that something horrible like this was going to happen.”

Broberg’s story has been documented in the book “Stolen Innocence: The Jan Broberg Story,” the documentary “Abducted in Plain Sight” in 2019 on Netflix, and the most recent drama miniseries “A Friend of the Family” on Peacock.

After the book was released, other victims came forward. Berchtold took his own life in November 2005.

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