‘Dances With Wolves’ actor appears in court in abuse probe

‘Dances With Wolves’ actor appears in court in abuse probe

NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. (AP) — A former Dances With Wolves actor accused of sexually abusing Indigenous girls and leading a cult must be held without bail pending his next court hearing , as ordered by a judge on Thursday morning.

NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. (AP) — A former Dances With Wolves actor accused of sexually abusing Indigenous girls and leading a cult must be held without bail pending his next court hearing , as ordered by a judge on Thursday morning.

Nathan Chasing Horse, 46, is charged with sex trafficking, sexually assaulting a child under 16 and child molestation. He has been in custody outside the north Las Vegas home he shares with his five wives since his arrest Tuesday afternoon.

He appeared briefly in court in north Las Vegas on Thursday, but did not speak before Justice of the Peace Belinda Harris scheduled a bail hearing for Monday. Chasing Horse has not been formally charged.

On Monday, Harris is expected to address Chasing Horse’s custody status and set bail after hearing from prosecutors, investigators, victims and the accused’s families.

Clark County Assistant District Attorney Jessica Walsh told the judge Thursday that Las Vegas police detectives, FBI special agents and victims will speak at the hearing.

Public defender Michael Wilfong pointed to the front row in the courtroom where Chasing Horse’s family members were sitting and said he had “great support”.

Las Vegas police arrested Chasing Horse on Tuesday after a month-long investigation into the alleged abuse that authorities said stretched over two decades.

Known for his role as a young member of the Sioux tribe Smiles a Lot in the Oscar-winning film directed by Kevin Costner, Chasing Horse gained a reputation among tribes in the United States and Canada as a so-called medicine man who performed healing ceremonies.

He is believed to be the leader of a cult called The Circle, whose followers believed he could communicate with higher powers, according to a warrant for his arrest.

Police said he abused his position, physically and sexually assaulted indigenous girls and women, took underage wives and led the sect.

Chasing Horse was born on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, home of the Sicangu Sioux, one of the seven tribes of the Lakota Nation.

A 50-page search warrant obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday says Chasing Horse trained its wives to use firearms and instructed them to “shoot it down” with cops if they tried to “break up their family.” If this failed, the wives should take “suicide pills.”

Detectives who searched his home found firearms, 41 pounds (18.5 kilograms) of marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms, and a memory card containing several sexual assault videos, according to an arrest report released Wednesday.

Additional charges could be brought in connection with the videos, the report said.

Court filings did not list an attorney who could speak for him, and Las Vegas police said Chasing Horse was unable to give a prison interview Wednesday.

Las Vegas police said in the search warrant that investigators had identified at least six sexual assault victims, including one who was 13 when she said she was molested. Police also pursued sexual allegations against Chasing Horse into the early 2000s in Canada and in several states including South Dakota, Montana and Nevada, where he has lived for about a decade.

One of Chasing Horse’s wives was offered to him as a “gift” when she was 15, police say, while another became a wife after she was 16. He is also accused of recording sexual assault and arranging sex between victims and other men paying him.

His arrest came nearly a decade after he was banned from the Fort Peck Reservation in Poplar, Montana, on allegations of human trafficking.

Fort Peck tribal leaders voted 7-0 to ban Chasing Horse from entering the reservation in 2015, citing alleged drug trafficking and allegations of drug trafficking, spiritual abuse and intimidation of tribal members, Indian Country Today reported.

Angeline Cheek, an activist and community organizer who has lived on the Fort Peck Reservation most of her life, said she vividly recalled the tensions that arose in the council chambers when Chasing Horse was banned.

“Some of Nathan’s followers told the members something bad was going to happen to them,” Cheek told the AP. “They threatened our elders who sat in the council chambers.”

Cheek said she remembered Chasing Horse visiting the reservation frequently growing up, particularly during her high school years in the early 2000s when she would see him talking to her classmates.

Cheek, now 34, said she hopes Chasing Horse’s arrest will inspire more Indigenous girls and women to report crimes and push lawmakers and elected officials across the US to prioritize addressing anti-Indigenous violence.

But she also hopes that the cultural importance of the medicine men is not lost in the news about the crimes.

“There are good medicine men and women among our people who do not seek to commercialize the sacred ways of our ancestors,” she said. “They are meant to heal people, not harm them.”

Rio Yamat, The Associated Press

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