The sign for RWB Horse Ranch, formerly owned by Robert Blessing, is seen Friday, Dec. 22, 2023, in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

The sign for RWB Horse Ranch, formerly owned by Robert Blessing, is seen Friday, Dec. 22, 2023, in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Arlington horse ranch owner charged with 10 sex crimes against children

Police say Robert Blessing inappropriately touched or messaged at least three more girls who boarded their horses at his ranch.

ARLINGTON — An Arlington ranch owner’s alleged sexual abuse of one teen girl began when he gave her a horse as a birthday present, Snohomish County prosecutors alleged in charges filed Tuesday.

Multiple girls and women accused Robert Blessing, 36, of connecting with them through his business, RWB Horse Ranch, and exploiting them, sometimes for years. They reported Blessing buying them gifts, like horses, to curry favor. If they rejected his sexual advances, they reported he would treat them poorly.

On Tuesday, prosecutors charged Blessing in Snohomish County Superior Court with 10 felony sex crime counts, some dating back as far as 2013, including sexual exploitation of a minor, third-degree rape of a child, third-degree child molestation, communication with a minor for immoral purposes, possession of child pornography and promoting commercial sexual abuse of a minor.

The charges are related to his alleged abuse of three teens. But detectives reported finding evidence that Blessing had inappropriately touched or messaged at least three others who boarded their horses at his ranch. Prosecutors wrote in court documents they could not file charges on those cases due to the statute of limitations.

“It is clear that the defendant engaged in predatory and purposeful grooming and manipulation of the children who were simply trying to use his Ranch as a place to ride or board their horses,” deputy prosecutor Julia Hartnell wrote in the charges. “He used his position of trust as the Ranch owner to gain access and then exploit these girls.”

In late October, police started investigating Blessing when a teen girl reported her allegations him to a school counselor, the charges say. She reportedly told the counselor she felt there was no way of escaping Blessing because she boarded her horse at his ranch.

She alleged Blessing had exploited two others, according to the charges.

For one of them, Blessing and his wife had become a surrogate family. She lived with them for five years, according to court documents. But as a teen, he started abusing her after buying her a horse. When she told Blessing the touching wasn’t welcome, he turned cold on her, she told detectives, manipulating her into acquiescing.

The third accuser, then 13, worked at the barn. He knew she had financial difficulties, so he’d pay her for sexual photos, prosecutors allege. This reportedly lasted three or four years, with regular $400 to $600 payments each month.

Other women who talked to detectives reported Blessing would make sexual comments, touch them and send inappropriate messages when they were under 18, according to court documents.

On Dec. 20, investigators from the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office arrested Blessing for investigation of 12 sex crimes. Everett District Court Judge Tam Bui set bail at $150,000. The day after his arrest, Blessing posted bail and was released from the Snohomish County Jail.

Blessing’s arraignment on the 10 felonies is set for Feb. 12. Court records show he has no criminal history. Court filings did not indicate if Blessing had been assigned or retained a defense attorney.

State business records show RWB Horse Ranch was dissolved in July.

Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439; jake.goldstein-street@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.

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