The case involved sexual assault and efforts to facilitate the prostitution of two victims, ages 17 and 18. Police first learned of the defendant's crimes in December of 2019, after they were called to a disturbance at a house in Washington County, Oregon. The defendant was at the residence with both victims and was providing them alcohol and prescription medication. He sexually assaulted the 18-year-old victim while she was intoxicated.
As part of the investigation, police learned the defendant was causing the 17-year-old victim to engage in prostitution. These acts of prostitution went on for months and were arranged using the social media website, Seeking Arrangement. This website is often associated with illegal sexual activity. Police discovered text messages showing the defendant directing the victim's acts of prostitution. He also had a sexual relationship with the victim. He attempted to cause the 18-year-old to engage in prostitution as well but was unsuccessful.
Detectives interviewed the defendant. He initially denied the allegations involving both victims but later admitted he did establish accounts on Seeking Arrangement for two victims.
Judge Proctor also ordered the defendant to undergo post-prison supervision for three years following his release and required him to register as a sex offender. Mr. Branderhorst will be transferred to the Oregon Department of Corrections to begin serving his sentence.
In addition to this case, sheriff's deputies also arrested Robert Kiyoshi Sunamoto, age 75, after he used the same website to contact one of the victims for sex. Detectives determined he met the 17-year-old victim, took her back to his home, and paid her for sex. In July of 2021, Mr. Sunamoto pleaded guilty to commercial sexual exploitation and was sentenced to two years of probation.
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month. In 2018, this office helped launch the Washington County Human Trafficking Task Force. Its mission is to identify sex trafficking cases, to rescue victims from these situations and to hold offenders accountable. For more information on these efforts, visit our website.
This case is an important reminder of the dangers present online for children. The task force works together to educate the community about these risks to help prevent these types of crimes from occurring in the future. Senior Deputy District Attorney Andy Pulver recently conducted a presentation aimed at educating parents and guardians about these dangers. This presentation is available on our website.
This office wishes to acknowledge the work of the Washington County Sheriff's Office on this case including Detective Mark Povolny. Additionally, this office wishes to thank Safety Compass of Oregon for their assistance and support provided to one of the victims.