LAS VEGAS– A grand jury on Wednesday indicted a former Dances With Wolves actor for a decade of sexually abusing and trafficking Indigenous women and girls in Nevada.
The full, 19-count indictment charges Nathan Chasing Horse, 46, with sexual assault, human trafficking and child abuse. It also adds charges of kidnapping, drug trafficking, and open and gross indecency.
Chasing Horse is in police custody in Las Vegas and has been held on $300,000 bail since he was arrested by SWAT officers on January 31 near the north Las Vegas home he and his five wives live in shared.
He will be asked to file a plea for the first time since his arrest when he faces arraignment in Clark County District Court on March 1.
The charges stem from crimes in the Las Vegas area dating back to early 2012, according to the eight-page indictment. But Chasing Horse, widely known for his role as Smiles a Lot in Kevin Costner’s Oscar-winning 1990 film, also faces criminal charges in Canada and in the US District Court of Nevada.
Wednesday’s indictment means the Clark County criminal case against Chasing Horse can now be heard in a district court, eliminating the need for a pre-trial hearing where a lower-level judge would have heard testimony before deciding whether prosecutors had enough Evidence of Chasing Horse has come to court.
A preliminary hearing at the North Las Vegas Justice Court was scheduled 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 public defender Kristy Holston told The Associated Press she looks forward to exposing what she called holes in the state’s case.
“Because the public is so interested in this case and only select details of the allegations have been released,” Holston said in an email, “we think it most appropriate for the state to present its evidence in a public hearing where the defense.” can reveal the weaknesses of the state’s case on the court record.”
Holston did not immediately respond to comment on the indictment and additional charges against her client on Wednesday afternoon. Chasing Horse has turned down several interview requests from the AP while in prison.
After Chasing Horse was taken into custody last month, SWAT officers and investigators searched his property. According to court documents, they found firearms, psilocybin mushrooms, 41 pounds of marijuana and two cellphones with 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 found in a bedside table and another in a locked safe — was underway.
When Chasing Horse was arrested, he was the focus of a month-long investigation by Las Vegas police, who say they uncovered a pattern of sexual abuse and crime dating back to the early 2000s in several states, including Montana and South Dakota as well as Canada.
Chasing Horse is charged in connection with a 2018 rape in British Columbia, Canada, and the US Attorney’s Office in Montana said crimes in her state were being investigated at the Fort Peck Reservation. In 2015, Chasing Horse was banned from the reservation in northeast Montana due to allegations of human trafficking.
In more than a hundred pages of court documents, Las Vegas police described Chasing Horse as a polygamous leader of a cult called The Circle, whose followers believed he had healing powers and the ability to communicate with higher beings.
Police have accused Chasing Horse of using his position to gain access to Indigenous girls and women, physically and sexually abusing them and taking underage women. At a court hearing earlier this month, a Clark County prosecutor asking for $2 million bail revealed that Chasing Horse was allegedly in the process of grooming young girls to replace his older wives at the time of his arrest.