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Another woman is coming forward about the abuse she says she experienced at the hands of Robert Berchtold.
In the new Peacock documentary “A Friend Of The Family: True Evil,” Jan Broberg revisits the places where she was abused by family friend Robert Berchtold. He kidnapped her on two separate occasions, during which he convinced her that she and him chosen by an alien race to reproduce so that they can save their dying population.
At the end of the documentary, Broberg meets Heidi Brewer, another woman who says she was sexually abused by Berchtold.
Broberg said she learned about Brewer after reading a police report that was filed against Berchtold in 1986, which she referenced during a 2004 court hearing pertaining to her request for a restraining order. During the proceedings, Broberg told Berchtold that the report alleged he had sexually abused a 10-year-old girl.
Broberg told Oxygen.com correspondent Stephanie Gomulka that since reading the report she hoped to meet Brewer, as she always felt “alone” in her experience. “To meet Heidi in a circumstance where we were able to validate each other’s experience, that was the point. We all need to believed, understood and not blamed.”
Broberg noted that she’s long discussed her abuse at the hands of Berchtold, but Brewer hadn’t yet dealt with a lot of the emotions associated with her trauma.
“Some of us are better at stuffing these kinds of things away,” Broberg told Gomulka. “I was the kind of person that had to be open and talk. Once I started, I never shut up about the whole thing.”
Brewer, who hadn’t publicly identified herself as a Berchtold victim prior to “A Friend Of The Family: True Evil,” said in the documentary that Berchtold similarly charmed her family, especially her adopted mother Doris, who gave him permission to take Brewer to meet his kids for an overnight visit in Ogden, Utah.
Brewer noted that she didn’t tell her mom about the alleged abuse, which took place over about seven years, because Berchtold had told her, “This is our secret. This is just for us.”
Around other people, Brewer said, Berchtold called her his daughter, and she even took his last name in school. But she ultimately told her mom about the alleged abuse around the time she turned 17 — though Brewer thinks her mom had her suspicions.
“I remember arguments where she’d ask [Berchtold] and, of course, he would say no and ‘You’re being crazy,’” Brewer told Broberg.
Brewer said that Berchtold was like two different people to her, treating her as if she was his own blood in one moment, and his partner in another.
Brewer likened the abuse to housework, telling Broberg, “It’s like a chore. You gotta take out the trash. You gotta wash the dishes. Let’s go have sex with Bob — it’s like you’re paying for the attention.”
Though Broberg didn’t learn about Brewer until she was an adult, Brewer said that she knew about Broberg because Berchtold had shown her nude photos of the teen.
“I don’t even remember that,” Broberg said. “I would imagine that would be scary enough for you not to tell anybody.”
Brewer said that she kept it a secret, because the photos made her think that Berchtold had abused other girls and had gotten away with it. “There were no consequences to his actions, so why say anything?” Brewer said.
Now that Brewer has spoken out, Broberg told Oxygen.com that she hopes this was a step towards healing. As she told Gomulka, “I do believe telling our stories is the first step in our own healing journey, even if it’s only one person who believes you and can be another shoulder to cry on.”
“A Friend of the Family: True Evil” is streaming now on Peacock, along with the dramatized series "A Friend of the Family," starring Jake Lacy, Anna Paquin and Colin Hanks.
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