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Chasing Horse trial on hold pending appeal to Nevada Supreme Court

A Las Vegas judge halted court proceedings against an alleged cult leader accused of sexual assault on Wednesday in order for public defenders to appeal a ruling in the case to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Last week, District Judge Carli Kierny declined to dismiss sexual assault, kidnapping and lewdness charges against Nathan Chasing Horse, a former actor accused of operating a cult known as The Circle.

Chief Deputy Public Defender Kristy Holston filed a motion to halt the proceedings so that she could appeal the judge’s decision to the Supreme Court, and Kierny granted the motion during a brief court hearing Wednesday.

“Because the parties have agreed to the stay, I’m not going to stand in the way of that and I will grant the stay at this time,” Kierny said.

An appeal had not been filed with the high court as of late Wednesday morning.

Chasing Horse, who is also known for playing Smiles a Lot in the 1990 Kevin Costner film “Dances With Wolves,” was arrested Jan. 31 after police raided his North Las Vegas home where he lived with up to six women he viewed as wives. Two women in Clark County have told police they met Chasing Horse as girls at Native American ceremonies and that they were raped by him when they were teenagers, according to an arrest report.

He is also facing charges in U.S. federal court, and warrants charging him with sexual assault have been issued by the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana and by Canadian authorities.

Public defenders have argued that prosecutors failed to show that the alleged victims did not consent to have sex with Chasing Horse. The women have testified to a grand jury that they felt like they could not say no to him.

One of the women, who formerly lived with Chasing Horse as his wife, has testified that Chasing Horse raped her when she was 14 and then told her to continue having sex with him so that he could heal her mother’s cancer.

Kierny did not dismiss the charges against Chasing Horse in connection with the alleged assaults, but she did dismiss a drug trafficking charge stemming from 236 grams of hallucinogenic mushrooms that police said were found in the North Las Vegas home. The judge found that the grand jury was presented with no evidence connecting Chasing Horse to the drugs.

Chasing Horse is scheduled to appear in court again on May 10.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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