June 22nd, 2024

‘Dances With Wolves’ actor indicted in Nevada sex abuse case

By Rio Yamat, The Associated Press on February 22, 2023.

Nathan Chasing Horse stands in court on Feb. 6, 2023, in North Las Vegas, Nev. A grand jury on Wednesday, Feb . 22, 2023, indicted the former "Dances With Wolves" actor on felony charges that he sexually abused and trafficked Indigenous women and girls in Nevada for a decade. The sweeping 19-count indictment charges Nathan Chasing Horse, 46, with sexual assault, trafficking and child abuse. (AP Photo/Ty O'Neil, File)

LAS VEGAS (AP) – A grand jury on Wednesday indicted a former “Dances With Wolves” actor on felony charges that he sexually abused and trafficked Indigenous women and girls in Nevada for a decade.

The sweeping 19-count indictment charges Nathan Chasing Horse, 46, with sexual assault, trafficking and child abuse. It also adds charges of kidnapping, drug trafficking, and open and gross lewdness.

Chasing Horse has been in Las Vegas police custody, held on $300,000 bail, since he was arrested Jan. 31 by SWAT officers near the North Las Vegas home he shared with his five wives.

He will be asked to enter a plea for the first time since his arrest when he is arraigned March 1 in Clark County District Court.

The charges stem from crimes in the Las Vegas-area dating to early 2012, according to the eight-page indictment. But Chasing Horse, who is widely known for his role as Smiles a Lot in Kevin Costner’s 1990 Oscar-winning film, also faces criminal charges in Canada and in Nevada U.S. District Court.

Wednesday’s indictment means the criminal case in Clark County against Chasing Horse can now go to trial in District Court, eliminating the need for a public preliminary hearing, where a lower level court judge would have heard testimony before deciding whether prosecutors have enough evidence for Chasing Horse to stand trial.

A preliminary hearing in North Las Vegas Justice Court had been set for Wednesday morning but was canceled after prosecutors told a judge they expected a grand jury to return an indictment later Wednesday.

Ahead of the scheduled preliminary hearing, Chasing Horse’s public defender, Kristy Holston, told The Associated Press she was looking forward to revealing what she called holes in the state’s case.

“Since the public is so interested in this case and because only select details of the accusations have been released,” Holston said in an email, “we think it would be most appropriate for the State to present their evidence in a public hearing where the defense can reveal the weaknesses of the State’s case on the record in court.”

Holston didn’t immediately respond Wednesday afternoon for comment on the indictment and the additional charges filed against her client. Chasing Horse has declined multiple jailhouse interview requests from the AP.

After Chasing Horse was taken into custody last month, SWAT officers and investigators raided his property. According to court documents, they found firearms, psilocybin mushrooms, 41 pounds of marijuana and two cellphones containing videos and photos of underage girls being sexually assaulted. The FBI said in a federal criminal complaint filed earlier this month that forensic testing on the cellphones – one of which was found in a nightstand and another in a locked safe – was ongoing.

By the time Chasing Horse had been arrested, he’d been the focus of a monthslong investigation by Las Vegas police, who have said they uncovered a pattern of sexual abuse and crimes dating back to the early 2000s across multiple states, including Montana and South Dakota, as well Canada.

Chasing Horse is charged in connection with a 2018 rape in British Columbia, Canada, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Montana said crimes in their state were under investigation on the Fort Peck Reservation. In 2015, amid allegations of human trafficking, Chasing Horse was banished from the reservation in northeastern Montana.

In more than a hundred pages of court documents, Las Vegas police described Chasing Horse as a polygamous leader of a cult known as The Circle, whose followers believed he had healing powers and could communicate with higher beings.

Police have accused Chasing Horse of using his position to gain access to Indigenous girls and women, physically and sexually assault them and take underage wives. At a court hearing earlier this month, a Clark County prosecutor arguing for $2 million bail revealed that Chasing Horse, at the time of his arrest, was allegedly in the process of grooming young girls to replace his older wives.

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