ST. GEORGE -- A man who kidnapped a 41-year-old woman twice as a child allegedly showed up at a women's conference over the weekend to interrupt her speech and book signing, and is charged with running over a security volunteer who tried to stop him.
Jan Broberg Felt hasn't seen her two-time abductor, Robert Ersol Berchtold, 68, since she was rescued by the FBI first at age 12, then age 14.
However, Berchtold allegedly showed up at the Saturday conference at Dixie State College and asked Les Watson, a volunteer for Bikers Against Child Abuse, to distribute some papers at the conference.
Watson, 31, said he asked to see the literature first, but Berchtold threatened him. When Watson walked away, Berchtold drove his white minivan into him, striking his right knee, flipping him in front of the van and dragging him for about 110 yards, the biker said.
After three hours at the emergency room at Dixie Regional Medical Center, Watson said he was in pain, but doctors had found no broken bones.
Watson, of Washington City, came to the conference with 11 other bikers at Felt's request for safety protection. In his two years volunteering for BACA, he said he has never seen such a violent act before.
Berchtold drove off in front of the bikers and about 40 women. One of the witnesses remembered his license plate number, and police arrested him in a McDonald's restaurant, Felt said.
Berchtold, of Brigham City, was booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility on charges of simple assault, criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct, said Washington County Sheriff Kirk Smith.
He was released at 7 p.m. on $970 bail, said Purgatory Cpl. Gene Redford.
Felt, who was shielded inside the building by her family, friends and Dixie State College police officers, said she didn't see Berchtold.
But she said she was "frightened" by Berchtold's desperate act and the rumors that he might have carried a gun.
Now an actress and a Santa Clara resident, she still remembers how Berchtold used a high-pitched voice from a white ivory box to control her during her abduction. The 12-year-old from Pocatello, Idaho, was told to serve a mission and bear a baby. Otherwise, she would "vaporize."
"I thought I'd been taken by a UFO," Felt recalled. "It was four years -- four years -- that I believed these illusions were real."
Before the conference, Berchtold had allegedly sent threatening letters to Felt's family members and the Women's Conference board.
Conference organizers had met with officials from Dixie State College Security and the St. George Police Department to work out security concerns.
With Berchtold's photo provided by Felt, said conference board member Terri Draper, four college security guards patrolled the conference. And for the first time, she said, every participant had to be hand-stamped to enter a lecture hall.
This story appeared in The Daily Herald on page D6.