Adorable, freckled-face, happy-go-lucky 12-year-old Jan Broberg was kidnapped twice and sexually abused for years by “fun loving” close family friend Robert “B” Berchtold in the 1970s.
Filmmaker Skye Borgman’s “Abducted in Plain Sight,” currently streaming on Netflix, methodically recounts, through talking heads and grainy 8mm film re-enactments, the abduction and sexual abuse of Broberg and the manipulation of her entire family.
One shocking event after another — including supposed messages of aliens from outer space — continue throughout the 90-minute film.
My immediate response was anger toward Jan’s parents, Mary Ann and Bob Broberg.
Mary Ann Broberg’s denial and somewhat blasé attitude and Bob Broberg’s sadly pathetic account of events leave viewers with feelings of disgust and disbelief.
According to Bob Broberg, not only were there no red flags, he had no idea what pedophilia was.
No red flags? Are you kidding me?
There were big, bright, red flags everywhere.
Shocking scenes happen within the first 20 minutes of the film.
I’m certain I’m not the only one who yelled at my laptop.
How could Jan’s parents not call the police until after five days of their daughter’s first disappearance? How can they be so naïve? And how — horror of horrors — could they allow themselves to be duped into permitting Berchtold to sleep in the same bed as their young daughter for the sake of Berchtold’s therapy?
I have a feeling more will be revealed in a probable sequel or two, as the 90-minute docudrama merely skimmed the surface of unanswered questions.
As far as additional spoilers, I’ll refrain. Trust me, I barely skimmed the surface.
For now, I’ll step back and try to make the slightest sense out of something so wrong that we need a new word for wrong.
Sexual predators begin by grooming their victims.
According to a 2018 article in Psychology Today, the grooming process involves desensitizing a victim to inappropriate social or sexual advances through boundary-probing, while at the same time developing a foundation of trust. The primary purpose of grooming is to normalize inappropriate behavior. Sexual predators manipulate through focused flattery.
Gullible or just plain ignorant, Bob and Mary Ann Broberg were not only groomed by Berchtold, they were also blackmailed by his wife, who pleaded with them not to go to the police.
Mary Ann Broberg received the flattery she desperately craved. Bob Broberg became friend and confidante to the popular, church going, charismatic family man.
In the film, Jan said that forgiving her parents was vital to survive and move on with her life.
The family suffered enough pain and shame to last a lifetime, yet through it all, they not only survive, they present a means toward possibly helping others.
The saving grace, if any, after watching “Abducted in Plain Sight” is that the story is told by Jan herself, a strong, successful survivor who is also a working actress.
Do we dare have empathy, let alone forgiveness, for parents who allowed a manipulating pedophile to sexually abuse and abduct their own daughter?
Maybe I’m not as strong as Jan. I’m still pissed off.