Photographer pleads guilty to molesting teen models

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VISTA, Calif. -- A professional photographer who sexually assaulted four teenage girls during modeling sessions at a rented Carlsbad residence where he had set up a temporary studio pleaded guilty Thursday to 23 felonies related to raping and inappropriately touching the teens -- some of whom were drugged and unconscious during the abuse -- as well as creating child pornography of the girls.

Robert Koester, 52, agreed to a 25-year-prison term in return for his guilty pleas to all charges brought against him in San Diego County.

He also faces federal charges locally, as well as charges in his home state of Oregon, where he's accused of assaulting additional victims. His San Diego County sentencing is set for Oct. 25.

Deputy District Attorney Dan Owens said the investigations against Koester began with one of his local victims, identified in court only as Jane Doe 1, who came forward regarding the abuse and "put a stop" to his ongoing crimes. Based on her statements, Koester was arrested on Nov. 13, 2018, in Carlsbad.

"The victims in this case showed extraordinary strength in coming forward and speaking out against this man who victimized them," according to Owens, who said the case has had "a tremendous impact on the victims who were involved in this case, not only them, but their families."

Koester , who had been hired as a contract worker by Carlsbad-based Frank Model Management, raped and took nude photographs of the girls, whose ages ranged from 15 to 17 during the San Diego County incidents. The FBI has stated that some of his alleged criminal acts date back to 1994.

Authorities say he worked under the aliases, "Bert Kay," "Rhake Winter" and "Qitooly."

Following his sentencing, he's due to be transferred to San Diego federal custody to begin his federal case, which involves creation of child pornography regarding two of the charged victims in the state's case. Part of his plea agreement would have any sentence he receives federally to run concurrently with his 25-year prison term.

He then likely would be extradited to Yamhill County in Oregon to face additional state and federal prosecution there.

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