A professional photographer is accused of drugging and sexually assaulting young, aspiring models in at least two states and now authorities are seeking the public’s help in finding more potential victims.
Robert Arnold Koester, 52, is accused of bringing young women and girls to a remote property outside McMinnville, in Oregon’s wine country, taking nude photos of them and sexually assaulting them there, Yamhill County District Attorney Brad Berry said at a news conference while announcing an indictment charging Koester with 32 counts, including rape.
Investigators serving two search warrants at the remote, 28-acre property seized “many, many terabytes” of digital photos and videos as evidence. The images suggest other victims may have been abused on the property, Berry said.
The FBI and local law enforcement in both California and Oregon are now asking the public for help identifying potential victims of Koester, who they called a “suspected serial sexual predator,” according to the FBI.
Many of the models he’s accused of sexually assaulting are younger than 18.
Koester also goes by the names Bert Kay, Rhake Winter, and Qitooly and he’s accused of engaging in sex crimes as early as 1994 and as recently as November 2018, when he was first arrested in Carlsbad, California on suspicion of sexually abusing four teenage girls. He is being held on $1 million bail there, and is on a hold in the federal cases, court records show. His bail in Oregon is listed at $2.5 million. Koester also faces two federal counts of sexual exploitation of a minor in California.
The 32 felony counts he was charged with in late January involve four separate victims, one of whom was a minor, according to the FBI. Charges include first-degree rape, first-degree sodomy, first-degree unlawful sexual penetration, and causing another person to ingest a controlled substance. The charges in Oregon and California identify eight people — four in Oregon and four in California, Berry said.
Koester primarily photographed models in the western U.S., but authorities said they have identified potential victims in cities across the country. He got referrals for modeling shoots from several professional modeling agencies and was fairly well known within the industry, Berry said.
His business website, Bert Kay Photography, is splashed with the slogan: “Chasing Light: From a hilltop farm in Oregon wine country to locations worldwide,” and features some of his Pacific Northwest modeling photography.
“It’s hard to give you an estimate of the number of victims, in part because the amount of information that has been seized and has yet to be analyzed is huge, and we don’t really know,” Berry said. “We wholly expect there to be more victims.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.