A photographer suspected of sexually preying on his models – some of whom were minors – changed his plea to guilty during court proceedings Thursday.
Robert Koester, 52, was charged with nearly two dozen felonies involving sex crimes with minors. The modeling photographer’s alleged crimes may date back to 1994, prosecutors said.
In court Thursday, Koester changed his plea to guilty for all 23 felony counts currently brought against him in California.
According to the new plea, Koester may serve up to 25 years in prison and must register as a sex offender for life. He is scheduled to be sentenced in October, officials confirmed.
On Nov. 12, 2018, Koester allegedly assaulted a 16-year-old girl as she posed for a photo shoot. Koester was sub-contracted by the modeling agency, Frank.
The victim, identified as “Jane Doe 1,” told her boyfriend what happened afterwards, and he urged her to tell her parents. The family then reported the incident to the Carlsbad Police Department.
When officers arrived at Koester’s home the next day, CPD said evidence of the sex crime was found, and Koester was arrested. He posted bail and was released.
Following his arrest, three more alleged victims came forward to report misconduct and assault by Koester.
“She’s very brave,” Jane Doe 1’s mother told NBC 7 back in 2018. “She has inspired other girls to disclose their own abuse.”
Deputy District Attorney Dan Owens confirmed three of the victims were 16 at the time of the alleged assaults. His fourth victim was 18 when the allegations were brought forward, but Owens said the crime against her happened when she was only 15 years old.
On Nov. 21, 2018, Koester was arraigned in San Diego County and charged with 35 felony counts, including sexual battery, possession of child pornography, and sexual penetration. This number jumped from his original six felony charges.
Carlsbad police have been working closely with the Frank modeling agency to identify any more potential victims or witnesses during his 25-year career photographing models up and down the West Coast.
FBI San Diego officials said Koester owns a farm in Yamhill County, Oregon. Officials in that county are investigating additional allegations of abuse.
After Koester is sentenced in San Diego, he will be transferred to federal court where he faces additional charges. After that, Koester will be extradited to Oregon for even more charges -- there, he faces a life sentence in prison. This is in order of when the respective agencies first filed charges against Koester.
According to police, Koester has used the aliases “Bert Kay,” “Rhake Winter,” and “Qitooly” when working with clients. The department is asking anyone with information to call police at (760) 931-3819 or email email@example.com or ModelCase@fbi.gov.