Photographer charged with dozens of sexual assault crimes in Oregon and California
The Yamhill County Sheriff's Office and the FBI announced on Wednesday that a man with ties to the region was arrested in late fall for dozens of counts of sexual crimes against at least eight women in Oregon and California.
In a press conference at the Yamhill County courthouse, District Attorney Brad Berry said that Robert Arnold Koester, 52, has potentially been committing these crimes since 1994 up until his arrest in Carlsbad, Calif., on Nov. 13.
Koester has aliases as Bert Kay, Rhake Winter and Qitooly, and had been working as a photographer who took nude photos and videos of models, some of whom came to his rural Carlton home.
Berry said they are seeking the public's help as there is a "huge" number of photos and videos seized from Koester's property that feature women who authorities have been unable to identify. The FBI, working with Yamhill and California authorities, has set up a system to collect information to identify other potential victims.
"Much of what we've seen we believe is West Coast, California and Oregon," Berry said of the victims, although he did say given the modeling industry, it is possible Koester brought in women from around the country.
Koester was living in southern California at the time of his arrest. He was indicted by a Yamhill County grand jury on 32 felony counts involving four separate victims, one of whom Berry said was a minor. The counts include multiple charges for first-degree rape, first-degree sodomy, first-degree unlawful sexual penetration and causing another person to ingest a controlled substance. His bail on the Yamhill arrests is $2.5 million.
In Oregon, Koester's rape, sodomy, and unlawful penetration charges all fall under Measure 11 laws, meaning they carry mandatory minimums in prison if convicted. Those three charges each carry a mandatory minimum of eight years and four months, which could be served concurrently or consecutively, depending on the judge's decision. Under this level of Measure 11, no probation, parole or early release would be granted.
Meanwhile, Koester faces 23 felony charges in San Diego County related to his arrest, including charges of child sexual abuse and production of child pornography. He also faces two federal counts of sexual exploitation of a minor in California. He's currently in custody in San Diego.
"We are looking to put together a complete picture of what happened," Goldman said.
Berry said Koester has owned the Carlton property since the fall of 2012 or 2013. The 28-acre property at 16470 N.W. Meadowlake Road has several buildings on it, and there was evidence that multiple areas within those building were used as photo studios. Berry did not have all the details of the California case, but said he was not aware of Koester using other places in Oregon to attract women.
The property is being monitored, but Berry wouldn't say if anyone was living at the property. And while he had agency referrals, Berry said so far no one else has been charged.
"We have not charged anyone else as a co-conspirator or a co-defendant in this case, I'll just leave it at that," he said.
Authorities searched the property twice; once in late November and again about 10 days prior to Wednesday's press conference.
As to whether Koester was allegedly drugging his victims, Berry said he wasn't going to give exact details, although he said "I think you can draw conclusions from the charges." He would not identify what substances Koester may have been administering to the models.
When asked if Koester was a pornographer, Berry said authorities had to be careful about commenting on potential future charges, but said he believes there are likely child pornography charges coming from Koester's time in Oregon.
Pornographic exploitation of a child also falls under Measure 11 in Oregon and carries a mandatory minimum of five years and 10 months in jail.
"He's not been charged in our case in anything that appears to be consensual," Berry said.
Berry said he could not immediately recall if Koester had previous convictions against him.