Abducted in Plain Sight (2017)
February 8, 2019 9:20 PM - Subscribe

The twisting, turning, stranger-than-fiction true story of the Brobergs, a naive, church-going Idaho family that fell under the spell of a sociopathic neighbor with designs on their twelve-year-old daughter. CW: abuse

Is this the world's most naive family?
posted by k8t (6 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I found this movie fascinating. Yes, the family is very naive.

But part of what was interesting to me is how the case fits the pattern of most molestation cases so much more closely than most infamous true crime stories. The specific and deliberate grooming of the family by a known acquaintance, rather than some random happening.

I felt for the father, who I suspect was gay, given the marriage difficulties and the way the blackmail panned out.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:36 AM on February 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

I had to take a break in the middle of this because there were just so many twists and turns that left me completely dumbfounded. The family was naive, but what about the community they lived in? Their church? B’s own brother? So many people slipped up, and were complicit. Even the rulings B received for his crimes floored me.

I agree with how fascinating this was.
posted by loriginedumonde at 3:18 PM on February 9, 2019

I watched this on the heels of the Ted Bundy Tapes and it did not have me feeling too good about humanity.

I wonder if the filmmaker intentionally chose that title to mislead? It is so hilariously vague and has very little to do with what actually happened.
posted by something something at 3:21 PM on February 9, 2019

So I'm only about 26 minutes in. The one thing that made sense to me is the Brobergs were/are members of the LDS. To me this explained a LOT of their naïveté. But also it explains why this serial predator wasn't caught sooner. The LDS tried to deal with him internally using an unlicensed therapist. This is EXACTLY how the Duggars in the Quiverfull movement dealt with their son's sexual predation. It's why these super insular communities with a distrust of "outsiders" including the police are a perfect hunting ground for sexual predators.
posted by miss-lapin at 3:03 PM on February 12, 2019 [3 favorites]

I just keep thinking they knew and allowed it to happen. And this is an easier story to tell her and themselves. Deny you knew anything, blame it on being naive. He slept in her bed for six months!
posted by valeries at 5:32 PM on March 11, 2019

I'm coming to this movie, and the discussion around it, fairly late, so I watched it in the context of some of the public reaction to it. (One of the best supplements to the story is this Vanity Fair interview of the director, who shares a lot of interesting anecdotes and things that didn't make the movie; at one point, she and the editor had to take a six-week break from the movie, to recover from their feelings about the Brobergs.) And, yeah, the parents don't come off very well at all; you'd hope that they would have simply accepted the shame and embarrassment at their infidelities being revealed in order to save their daughter. (The fury of the FBI agent who handled their case, even after all these years, is palpable.)

But the movie also makes very, very clear what a monster Berchtold was, how very cunning, patient, and persistent he was during his entire contact with the Brobergs. He literally shopped around for vulnerable families, and seemed to have initiated sexual contact with both parents solely to have blackmail material to use against them later. For the second abduction, he moved to another state, and stashed Jan in a third state, in a Catholic boarding school, and apparently got Jan to cooperate in some elaborate ruse to attempt to fool her parents into believing that she'd run away.

And, although I wouldn't let the parents off the hook, I think that they share blame with the institutions that failed them. Someone's already mentioned the LDS, and that church has (and to some extent still does) shun LGBT people, something that was no doubt on Bob Broberg's mind because of his front-seat handjob with Berchtold. And the cavalier attitude toward Berchtold's crimes by the judges who handled his sentencing both times is flabbergasting; Berchtold would have probably gotten a stiffer sentence if he'd been caught with less than an ounce of weed. It's only after he makes the spectacularly bad decision to confront Jan decades later, and then try to run over the bikers protecting her, that he faces any serious punishment and, probably knowing what sort of reception he'll get in jail, commits suicide. Some of the weirdness and bizarre stuff may be due to the events taking place in the seventies--the "therapy" that Berchtold claimed was actually supposed to make him less pedophilic (there were a lot of weird forms of psychotherapy being used then, most of which were useless or worse, of course) and the whole crypto-Christianity as UFO scenario that Berchtold used to control Jan (there was a lot of "UFOs are real" stuff floating around then, too)--but the approach of the legal establishment to cases like this would have been shitty in any era.

I know I've gone on for a while, but this movie really got to me. Maybe that's why I usually stay away from true crime stuff.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:36 AM on August 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

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