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Chasing Horse sex abuse charges upheld, drug crime dropped

Apr 7, 2023, 5:26 PM

FILE - Nathan Chasing Horse sits in court in Las Vegas, Monday, April 3, 2023. On Friday, April 7, ...

FILE - Nathan Chasing Horse sits in court in Las Vegas, Monday, April 3, 2023. On Friday, April 7, a Nevada judge threw out a drug trafficking charge against the “Dances With Wolves” actor but upheld a Las Vegas grand jury’s sweeping indictment on 18 sexual abuse-related felony crimes. (AP Photo/Ty O'Neil, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Ty O'Neil, File)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Nevada judge on Friday threw out a drug trafficking charge against a “Dances With Wolves” actor but upheld a Las Vegas grand jury’s sweeping indictment on 18 sexual abuse-related felony crimes.

In her order issued late Friday afternoon, Clark County District Court Judge Carli Kierny said state prosecutors presented enough evidence for “a reasonable grand jury to conclude that the sexual assaults occurred against two minors” but found that “there was no substantive testimony” connecting Nathan Chasing Horse to the psilocybin mushrooms investigators found while searching his home.

Chasing Horse, 46, had asked Kierny to toss the entire indictment, saying his accusers wanted to have sex with him and that the mushrooms found inside a refrigerator in his home did not belong to him. One of his accusers was younger than 16 — the age of consent in Nevada — when she says Chasing Horse began abusing her.

Public defender Kristy Holston said she had no comment on the judge’s ruling.

A grand jury in Las Vegas indicted Chasing Horse in February on charges of sexual assault of a minor, kidnapping, child abuse, lewdness and drug trafficking. He 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.

The sexual abuse allegations date to the early 2000s and cross multiple U.S. states, including Nevada, Montana and South Dakota, according to the indictment. Chasing Horse also faces sexual abuse charges U.S. District Court in Nevada, as well as on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana.

Police and prosecutors say that in the decades since Chasing Horse’s portrayal of Smiles a Lot in Kevin Costner’s 1990 Oscar-winning film, he had marketed himself to tribes nationwide as a medicine man with healing powers who could communicate with higher beings. They accuse of him using his position to lead a cult known as The Circle, gain access to vulnerable girls and women, and take underage wives.

One of the victims was 14, authorities have said, when Chasing Horse told her that the spirits of their ancestors had instructed him to have sex with her.

“Her mom is ill,” said Clark County prosecutor Stacy Kollins, “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.”

A trial in the state case is scheduled to begin on May 1. Chasing Horse has pleaded not guilty and invoked his right to a trial within 60 days of his indictment.

He is due back in court next week for a hearing on another motion asking the judge to grant him three separate trials. Chasing Horse and his attorneys argued in the motion that the sexual assault allegations and the drug trafficking charge are unrelated.

National News

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Chasing Horse sex abuse charges upheld, drug crime dropped