LAS VEGAS (AP) — The sexual abuse trial of a “Dances With Wolves” actor charged in Nevada with abusing Indigenous women and girls for more than a decade is on hold indefinitely, a state judge announced Wednesday.
Nathan Chasing Horse, 46, was originally set to stand trial May 1. He is charged with 18 felonies, including sexual assault of a minor, kidnapping, lewdness and child abuse.
Shortly after a grand jury in Las Vegas indicted him in February, Chasing Horse invoked his right to a trial within 60 days. But on Wednesday, his public defender, Kristy Holston, asked to put a pause on proceedings while they ask the Nevada Supreme Court to toss his indictment.
Clark County District Judge Carli Kierny said she would set a new trial date if the high court upholds her recent decision denying Chasing Horse’s request to dismiss the case. Chasing Horse and his attorneys argued that two women identified as his victims wanted to have sex with him.
Kierny, in her ruling issued Friday, said state prosecutors presented enough evidence for “a reasonable grand juror to conclude that the sexual assaults occurred.” While Kierny upheld the sexual abuse charges, she dismissed a drug trafficking charge, saying that there was no substantive testimony tying Chasing Horse to the psilocybin mushrooms investigators found while searching his home.
Holston and lead prosecutor Stacy Kollins declined to comment further after the hearing.
Kierny set a new hearing for May 10 to check on the status of Chasing Horse’s appeal to the high court, which had yet to be filed on Wednesday.
Chasing Horse was born on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota and is widely known for his portrayal of Smiles a Lot in Kevin Costner’s 1990 film.
But police and prosecutors have said that in the decades since appearing in the Oscar-winning movie, Chasing Horse marketed himself to tribes nationwide as a medicine man with healing powers who could communicate with higher beings. They accuse him of using his position to lead a cult, gain access to vulnerable girls and women, and take underage wives starting in the early 2000s.
Chasing Horse’s indictment in state court stems from allegations made by two women — including one who says she was 14 when the sexual abuse began — but court records show authorities have identified at least four other victims in the U.S and in Canada.
The former actor’s arrest on Jan. 31 in Nevada sent shockwaves throughout Indian Country and led to more criminal charges in other jurisdictions, including in Canada and the U.S. District Court in Nevada, as well as on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana.
Chasing Horse is being held on $300,000 bail at a county jail in Las Vegas. If he posts bail, he likely would be turned over to federal authorities in Nevada.