Authorities: Photographer from Yamhill County drugged, raped young models
A professional photographer from Yamhill County now faces nearly 60 charges in Oregon and California including rape, child sex abuse and production of child pornography.
Robert Arnold Koester, 52, is also accused of drugging young or aspiring models he worked with.
A neighbor of Koester's told KATU he's a "charming guy" who'd been to his house for dinner a few times. He said over the past few years he saw several girls and young women going in and out of Koester's home but he was unaware of any wrongdoing.
Yamhill County District Attorney Brad Berry said Koester took nude photos of young women and girls and sexually assaulted them at his rural property on the 16000 block of Northwest Meadowlake Road in Carlton, near McMinnville,
"He was a photographer of models and was apparently well known for that," Berry said during a news conference Wednesday.
A website under one of Koester's alleged aliases, "Bert Kay," includes the slogan, "From a hilltop farm in Oregon wine country to locations worldwide."
Berry said Koester was known by two other names including "Rhake Winter" and "Quitooly."
"The Yamhill County grand jury has indicted Mr. Koester on 32 counts, 32 different charges relating to four different victims, one a minor," Berry explained.
He said the charges include rape, sodomy, unlawful sexual penetration and causing another to ingest a controlled substance. Investigators serving two search warrants at Koester's Carlton property seized "many, many terabytes" of digital photos and videos as evidence, Berry told reporters.
"We believe that there are other victims," Berry said. "We're looking for information about, from individuals who may have been victims, may think that they potentially were victims, and as importantly, other individuals who might know of people who were at this particular property and in the home with Mr. Koester."
Koester was arrested in Carlsbad, California, near San Diego, in November on suspicion of sexually abusing four teenage girls.
"They were going to what they believed to be a legitimate photo shoot," Lt. Greg Koran, of the Carlsbad Police Department, told KGTV.
Investigators said Koester was contracted by 'Frank,' a Carlsbad-based modeling agency, to take pictures of one of the victims, a 16-year-old girl. Officers said the company is cooperating with the investigation.
Koester is charged with 23 crimes in San Diego County. His California attorney, Jonathan Lynn, told KATU he's pleaded not guilty to all of them.
Lynn said he "cannot comment on the charges from Oregon as I am not representing Mr. Koester in Oregon and grand jury proceedings are confidential."
Koester also faces two federal counts of sexual exploitation of a minor in California. The FBI believes his crimes may have started in 1994.
Koester is being held on $1 million bail in California and is on a hold in the federal cases, court records show. His bail in Oregon is listed at $2.5 million.
Koester bought the Yamhill County property in 2012 or 2013, Berry said.
No one immediately returned an email a KATU reporter sent to a listing on a business website used by Koester.
If you or someone you know may have been victimized by Koester, the FBI asks you to fill out this online questionnaire. You can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.