Alleged local child pornographer now faces federal charges
Robert Arnold Koester, the rural Yamhill County photographer arrested in February on allegations of sex crimes against young women in Oregon and California, will now face federal charges as well.
Koester, 52 – who also goes by aliases Bert Kay, Rhake Winter and Qitooly – was indicted Wednesday at U.S. District Court in Portland on six counts of production of child pornography.
The indictment, released by U.S. Attorney Billy Williams, alleges that starting in January 2015 Koester "knowingly coerced six minor victims in Oregon to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct."
The indictment further alleges that Koester is a suspected serial sexual predator who took nude photos of models, some who were minors, and subsequently sexually assaulted them during photo shoots at Westoak Studio, located on his 28-acre rural Carlton farm at 16470 N.W. Meadowlake Road.
He has potentially been engaging in this conduct, the indictment said, since 1994 and was only thwarted after his arrest in November 2018 in Carlsbad, Calif., the site of a second studio.
Koester was indicted in February by a Yamhill County grand jury on 32 felony counts involving four separate victims, one of whom Yamhill County District Attorney Brad Berry said was a minor.
The counts include multiple charges for first-degree rape, sodomy, unlawful sexual penetration and causing another person to ingest a controlled substance. His bail on the Yamhill County arrests was set at $2.5 million.
In Oregon, Koester's rape, sodomy, and unlawful penetration charges fall under Measure 11 laws, meaning they carry stiff 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.
Koester also 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.
The Department of Justice and the FBI have been working with local law enforcement in Carlsbad, Yamhill County and other communities to identify other potential victims in the case.
To that end the FBI has created an online system to collect victim information as well. The case is being prosecuted by Ravi Sinha, an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon.
"We are looking to put together a complete picture of what happened," Steve Goldman, an assistant FBI special agent in charge, said in February.
Victims may also be eligible for certain services and rights under federal and state law, with more information on that available at www.fbi.gov/modelcase.
Prosecutors have crafted a case against Koester via a lengthy investigation of the thousands of photos and videos seized from the man's property that feature women law enforcement has been attempting to identify since his February arrest.
"Much of what we've seen we believe is West Coast, California and Oregon," Berry previously said of the victims, although he did say given the modeling industry, it is possible Koester brought in women from around the country.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.