LAS VEGAS (AP) — A former “Dances With Wolves” actor accused of sexually abusing Indigenous women and girls in the U.S. and Canada has asked a judge in Nevada to toss out a sweeping indictment against him, saying two Las Vegas area women identified as victims wanted to have sex with him.
One of the women was younger than 16 — the age of consent in Nevada — when she says Nathan Chasing Horse began sexually abusing her.
Clark County District Court Judge Carli Kierny said Wednesday that she would issue her decision before the end of the week. She didn’t offer any indication as to how she might rule during her questioning of state prosecutors and Chasing Horse’s public defender.
Chasing Horse, 46, was indicted in Nevada in February on 19 counts, including sexual assault of a minor, kidnapping, child abuse, lewdness and drug trafficking. He also faces sexual abuse charges in Canada and the U.S. District Court in Nevada, as well as on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana.
Prosecutors and police say Chasing Horse, who is known for his portrayal of Smiles a Lot in Kevin Costner’s Oscar-winning film, marketed himself to tribes nationwide as a self-proclaimed medicine man and that he led a cult — “The Circle” — whose members believed he possessed healing powers and could communicate with higher beings.
They say he used his position to gain access to vulnerable girls and women and take underage wives starting in the early 2000s in Canada and multiple U.S. states, including Nevada, Montana and South Dakota.
Clark County prosecutor Stacey Kollins told the judge Wednesday that Chasing Horse’s claims were offensive, pointing to the age that one of the victims says the abuse began.
“She’s taken at 14 because her mom is ill, and she’s told that her virginity is the only pure part of her left and she has to sacrifice this to maintain her mom’s health,” Kollins said. “And to gloss over that by calling it transactional and saying there’s no proof of non-consent, that’s taking a lot of license to meet with the facts.”
The mother of one of the victims cried as Kollins spoke. The courtroom gallery was packed with Chasing Horse supporters.
Kristy Holston, Chasing Horse’s public defender, argued “it’s not the same as a lack of consent.”
“A sex worker, for instance, doesn’t desire sex with the client,” Holston said. “But their motive for doing it is for something other than desire.”
Kierny, the judge, could deny Chasing Horse’s request or dismiss some or all of the charges. Chasing Horse is currently scheduled to stand trial May 1 in the state case.
Chasing Horse has been in custody at a county jail since Jan. 31, when he was arrested by SWAT officers near the home he shared with his five wives in North Las Vegas.