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Where Is Jan Broberg From Peacock's 'A Friend Of The Family' Now?
Following two alleged kidnappings, Jan Broberg is involved with the Peacock series "A Friend of the Family," which dramatizes her alleged experience with Robert Berchtold.
By the time she was 15, Jan Broberg had been abducted twice by the same man who had been sexually abusing her for years.
Since then, Broberg has shared the harrowing story of how family friend Robert Berchtold gained her family’s trust in the 1970s. As Broberg has alleged multiple times, Berchtold groomed her over a period of years, later kidnapping her and fleeing to Mexico when she was just 12 years old.
The television and movie actress — who has starred in television series “Everwood” and films including “Iron Man 3” and “Haunt” — has recounted the bizarre real-life story on college campuses, speaking events, in a recent book and the popular Netflix documentary “Abducted in Plain Sight.”
Broberg and her mother, Mary Ann Broberg, both serve as producers on the series.
Jan Broberg addresses the audience briefly before the series begins, explaining why she wanted to revisit some of the most terrifying years of her life.
“I’m Jan Broberg and this series is based on my story,” she says. “I know it might seem unbelievable, but we lived in a different world back then... So many seem to think something like this could never happen to them, especially at the hands of someone they know and trust, but it did happen. It happened to my family. It happened to me.”
As shown in the Peacock series, Berchtold and his family moved into the Broberg’s Pocatello, Idaho neighborhood in the 1970s.
The two families quickly formed a “deep friendship” and shared church parties, family dinners, game nights, barbeque and other outings together in the years that would follow, Broberg shared in an earlier release about the project.
Berchtold had become somewhat like a second father to her, but what her family didn’t realize was that the married father had secretly become obsessed with Jan.
After telling her family he was taking her horseback riding, Berchtold kidnapped her on Oct. 17, 1974, when she was 12 years old, and fled to Mexico in a motor home, according to ABC News.
As the series portrays, she woke up strapped to a bed in the motor home with an ivory box playing a message that she had been kidnapped by aliens, who had chosen her to save their planet. To do so, she needed to conceive a child with her male companion. If she didn’t comply, she would be “instantly vaporized,” she told the outlet.
Broberg was rescued five weeks later by the FBI but she was still brainwashed into believing she needed to complete her “mission” to keep her family safe. It’s for this reason alone she didn’t tell anyone about the sexual abuse or Berchtold’s bizarre manipulation tactics, according to The Idaho State Journal.
He abducted her again in August of 1976 and fled to California, where she was once again rescued by the FBI four months later.
In the years that followed, Broberg tried to move on with her life and started her acting career, first starring in the TV movie “In The Line of Duty: Siege at Marion” in 1992, according to IMDB.
Most recently, she’s starred in several holiday TV movies and will play an attorney in “The Gabby Petito Story,” expected to air on Lifetime in October.
Broberg served as the Executive Director of the St. George Musical Theater in Utah from 2003 and 2007 and also recently served as the executive director at the Kayenta Arts Foundation, according to Refinery29.
While pursing her acting dreams, Broberg has also taken time to share her own story. Her mother, Mary Ann Broberg, published the book “Stolen Innocence: The Jan Broberg Story” in 2003 and the pair recently co-wrote the book “The Jan Broberg Story” together, which will be released in October.
Broberg admitted to ABC News in 2019 that she’s had moments of anger that her parents failed to do more to stop the years of sexual abuse, but she said she now understands “they had been groomed and manipulated too” and described herself as having a “wonderful” relationship with her parents.
Her father Bob Broberg died in 2018.
While Broberg has gone on to lead a successful life after the abuse, it wouldn’t be the last time she’d hear of Berchtold.
Broberg told ABC News she was promoting her mother’s book at a women’s conference in Utah in 2004 when Berchtold showed up and got into a scuffle with members of the group Bikers Against Child Abuse, who were at the conference to provide protection for the actress.
Berchtold was arrested at the event on charges of simple assault, disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing after one of the bikers claimed that Berchtold attacked him with his minivan. The biker told police the attack occurred after he had asked to look at some fliers that Berchtold had wanted to pass out at the event.
Berchtold, however, claimed the biker had tried to jump onto his minivan as he was attempting to leave the area.
Broberg told “Good Morning America” at the time that she believed the book’s release had prompted him to show up at the event.
“I think he’s desperate because he knows our story has come out,” she said.
Berchtold told the news outlet at the time that he had not tried to see Broberg or her mother and denied sexually abusing Jan as a child. He died the next year by suicide, according to Vanity Fair.
Broberg hopes that by sharing what happened to her family, and how Berchtold was able to use his charisma to manipulate those in his orbit all those years ago, as part of the limited series “A Friend of The Family,” the story can serve as a cautionary tale to other families.
While announcing the project, she said she hopes that the series “will start conversations – because secrets live in darkness and silence.”
The first three episodes of “A Friend of the Family” will be available to stream Oct. 6 on Peacock.