LAS VEGAS — A former “Dances With Wolves” actor accused of sexually abusing indigenous women and girls in the US and Canada for two decades has asked a Nevada judge to throw out a blanket indictment against him in state court.
Nathan Chasing Horse, 46, claims that sexual encounters with two women identified as victims in the Nevada case were consensual. One of them was under 16, the Nevada age of consent, when he says the sexual assault began.
Clark County District Court Judge Carli Kierny said Wednesday she would issue her decision before the end of the week. She could deny Chasing Horse’s application or dismiss some or all of the charges, though she offered no indication as to how she might fail during her cross-examination of state prosecutors and Chasing Horse’s public defender.
A Clark County jury indicted Chasing Horse, 46, in February on charges of sexual assault of a minor, kidnapping, child abuse, lust and drug trafficking. He has been in custody at a county jail since Jan. 31, when he was arrested by SWAT officers near the North Las Vegas home he shared with his five wives.
He also faces sexual assault charges in Canada and the US District Court in Nevada, as well as on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana.
Prosecutors and police say Chasing Horse, known for his portrayal of Smiles a Lot in Kevin Costner’s Oscar-winning film, marketed himself to tribes across the country as a self-proclaimed medicine man who possessed healing powers and could communicate with higher beings. They accuse him of using his position to lead a cult known as The Circle, gain access to vulnerable girls and women, and take underage wives.
The alleged crimes, according to court documents, date to the early 2000s and occurred in Canada and several US states, including Nevada, Montana and South Dakota.
Clark County District Attorney Stacey Kollins told the judge Wednesday that Chasing Horse’s claims were offensive, pointing to the age at which one of the victims says the abuse began.
“She was taken away at 14 because her mother is sick, and told that her virginity is the only pure part she has left and that she has to sacrifice this to maintain her mother’s health,” Kollins said. “And to gloss over that by calling it transactional and saying there’s no proof of lack of consent, that’s taking a lot of license to stick with the facts.”
As Kollins spoke, the mother of one of the victims wept on the gallery of the courtroom, which was packed with Chasing Horse supporters.
Public defender Kristy Holston argued that the 19-count indictment was overreach by the Clark County district attorney’s office and that some evidence presented to the grand jury, including a definition of grooming, had tainted the state’s case.
“It’s not the same as lack of consent,” he said, adding that “a sex worker, for example, doesn’t want to have sex with the client. But her motive for doing it is something more than desire.”
Outside the courtroom, Holston declined to comment further, while Kollins did not immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press seeking additional comment.
Chasing Horse is currently scheduled to go on trial May 1 in the state case. He pleaded not guilty and invoked his right to a trial within 60 days of his indictment.