By Rio Yamat
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
LAS VEGAS (AP)- A former “Dances With Wolves” actor accused of leading a cult could be facing multiple felonies and life in prison after police said he sexually assaulted young Indigenous girls and took multiple wives during a period spanning two decades, court records show.
As of Wednesday, Nathan Lee Chasing His Horse, who goes by Nathan Chasing Horse, will be charged with at least two counts of sex trafficking and one count each of sexual assault of a child younger than 16, child abuse or neglect and sexual assault, according to the records. Authorities have not said when he will be formally charged.
If convicted on the two counts of sex trafficking, he could be sentenced to 20 years in prison, and he could get life behind bars for a conviction on either of the sexual assault charges.
Las Vegas police took Chasing Horse into custody Tuesday afternoon as he left the North Las Vegas home that, according to the warrant, he shares with his five wives. He was booked before midnight into Clark County’s jail, where he remained held without bail on the sexual assault charges Wednesday morning.
Three women were seen detained outside Chasing Horse’s home Tuesday evening as detectives searched the property, but police have not released details of any potential charges against them or their relationship to Chasing Horse.
Known for his role as the young Sioux tribe member Smiles a Lot in the Oscar-winning Kevin Costner film, Chasing Horse gained a reputation among tribes across the United States and in Canada as a so-called medicine man who performed healing ceremonies and, police allege, used his position to abuse young Native American girls.
His arrest was the culmination of a months long investigation that began after the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department received a tip in October 2022.
And it comes as state attorneys general and lawmakers around the U.S. are looking into creating specialized units to handle cases involving Native American women.
In South Dakota, where police said some of Chasing Horse’s alleged crimes had occurred, the attorney general’s office has put a new focus on crimes against Native American people, including human trafficking and murders.
According to a search warrant obtained by AP, Chasing Horse is believed to be the leader of a cult known as The Circle.
Las Vegas police noted in the document that they have identified at least six alleged victims and uncovered sexual allegations against Chasing Horse dating to the early 2000s in multiple states, including Montana, South Dakota and Nevada, where he has lived for about a decade.
He was banished in 2015 from the Fort Peck Reservation in Poplar, Montana, according to the warrant, amid allegations of human trafficking.
There was no lawyer listed in court records for Chasing Horse who could comment on his behalf as of Wednesday morning. He is due in court Thursday in North Las Vegas.
Chasing Horse, 46, was born on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, which is home to the Sicangu Sioux, one of the seven tribes of the Lakota nation.
“Nathan Chasing Horse used spiritual traditions and their belief system as a tool to sexually assault young girls on numerous occasions,” detectives wrote in the warrant, adding that his followers believed he could communicate with higher beings and referred to him as “Medicine Man” or “Holy Person.”
Some of the alleged victims were as young as 13, according to the warrant. One of Chasing Horse’s wives was allegedly offered to him as a “gift” when she was 15, while another became a wife after turning 16.
Chasing Horse also is accused of recording sexual assaults and arranging sex with the victims for other men who paid him.
Although the warrant includes details of crimes reported elsewhere, the arrest Tuesday stems from crimes allegedly committed in Nevada’s Clark County.