LAS VEGAS (AP) — A “Dances With Wolves” actor charged with sexually abusing Indigenous women and girls for more than a decade has asked Nevada's high court to toss his sweeping indictment in state court.
Nathan Chasing Horse and his lawyers have argued that his accusers wanted to have sex with him.
The 46-year-old's appeal to the state Supreme Court, filed Tuesday, marks his latest attempt to get his case dismissed as he remains jailed in Las Vegas on charges that could send him to prison for decades — or life — if convicted.
“Nathan is pursuing this extraordinary writ because the trial court refused to dismiss the charges contained within the indictment in this case,” Deputy Clark County Public Defender Kristy S. Holston wrote in an affidavit attached to the formal appeal to the high court.
The presiding judge in the state's case, Carli Kierny, upheld Chasing Horse's indictment last month, writing in an order that prosecutors in Clark County presented enough evidence for “a reasonable grand juror to conclude that the sexual assaults occurred.”
His trial had been set to begin May 1, but Kierny put a pause on criminal proceedings indefinitely as Chasing Horse appeals her decision.
“Extraordinary relief is warranted here because Nathan has no plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of the law,” his lawyer wrote in Tuesday’s filing. “The trial court’s rulings have exposed petitioner to criminal liability for legally insufficient charges.”
Chasing Horse, who is known for his work in Kevin Costner's Oscar-winning movie, was arrested Jan. 31 in southern Nevada, the culmination of a monthslong investigation by Las Vegas police after receiving a tip from Canadian authorities. He is charged with 18 felonies, including sexual assault of a minor, child abuse and kidnapping.
Since starring in the 1990 film, Chasing Horse had built a name for himself among tribes in the U.S. and Canada as a self-proclaimed medicine man. Authorities have accused him of using that position to lead a cult, gain access to vulnerable Indigenous women and girls, and take underage wives starting in the early 2000s.
His arrest in Nevada stunned Indian Country and helped authorities in other jurisdictions corroborate allegations against him. Chasing Horse also faces criminal charges in Canada, the U.S. District Court in Nevada, and on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana.
His lawyers argued Tuesday that, beyond the question of Chasing Horse's guilt, the appeal presents an opportunity for the high court to clarify confusion in state law regarding definitions of consensual sex and spiritual guidance, among other things.
Associated Press writer Scott Sonner contributed to this report from Reno, Nevada.