Bob Broberg
Source: Top Knot Films

Bob Broberg being interviewed in 'Abducted in Plain Sight'

‘A Friend of the Family’: What Was Bob Broberg’s Relationship With Robert Berchtold?

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Oct. 11 2022, Published 1:45 p.m. ET

The Peacock drama miniseries A Friend of the Family shows how Jan Broberg was kidnapped twice when she was a child after her abductor ingratiated himself with her parents. The new series also delves into how said abductor Robert "B" Berchtold manipulated the family.

And if you saw the 2017 true-crime documentary Abducted in Plain Sight, you know that Jan’s father, the late Bob Broberg (who passed in 2018), had a sexual relationship with Jan’s abductor. Plus, Jan’s mother, Mary Ann Broberg, had her own affair with him too.

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As Vulture recapped in 2019 — after Abducted in Plain Sight came out on Netflix — Berchtold exploited the Brobergs’ extramarital activities to keep them silent about his relationship with Jan, their daughter.

Bob Broberg and Robert Bechtold’s relationship took a pivotal turn one day in a car.

Robert Berchtold and Jan Broberg
Source: Top Knot Films

Robert Berchtold and Jan Broberg in the 1970s

In Abducted in Plain Sight, Bob revealed that he'd participated in “an act of masturbation” with Berchtold one day after Berchtold (who died in 2005) convinced him to go for a drive.

“I could tell that [Berchtold] was extremely disturbed,” Bob said in the documentary, reflecting on that day. “He says, ‘Are you free? Let’s go for a ride.’”

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In the car, Bob and Berchtold’s friendship took a turn. “He says, ‘I cannot stand my wife, and I need to have sex,’” Bob recalled. “I could see that he was sexually aroused. He says, ‘Oh, think you can give me some relief?’ We were laughing, and he said, ‘Oh, Bob, it’s just kid stuff, and I’ve got to have relief.’ So, I was dumb enough to reach over and relieve him in an act of masturbation. I did the worst thing I’ve ever done, as far as breaking the trust and fidelity that I had with my wife.”

Robert Berchtold wrote about his relationship with Bob Broberg in a "manifesto"-type document.

Speaking to Vulture in 2019, Abducted in Plain Sight director Skye Borgman explained how she found out about Berchtold’s relationship with Bob. “There had been kind of a manifesto that Berchtold himself had written. We had a few pages of it, and it mentioned something about a relationship with the dad. … Then, when we got these transcripts from the two hearings that they had gone through, they had talked this masturbatory event in the car. I said, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s true.’”

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Skye also shared that she wasn’t sure whether she’d ask Bob about that event, but Bob ended up opening up about the car encounter in the course of his hours-long interview for the documentary. Then he talked about it to Mary Ann, who never knew the details of her husband’s interactions with Berchtold. “It was the first time that he’d ever admitted anything publicly,” Skye said.

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That event in the car was the only sexual encounter with Robert Berchtold that Bob Broberg recalled.

Despite his sexual encounter with Berchtold in the car, Bob maintained that he wasn’t gay, according to Skye. “He chose very certainly to stay with the church and to stay with his family,” she added. “And that was something that he was very committed to. Both those things are the two most important things, really, in his life. Church and family.”

And Skye said that she and the other Abducted in Plain Sight researchers tried to find out whether the car encounter was a one-time thing. “[The car] is the only time that he remembered it happening, but this is a story that happened 45 years ago,” she said. “I think it may have happened more than once. I really don’t know for certain if it did, and I don’t know that it really would have made all that much difference. I think that Bob Broberg would have felt as much guilt if it happened once or if it happened twice.”

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