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Sex with girl was ‘transactional,’ Chasing Horse lawyer says

Updated April 5, 2023 - 3:21 pm

A lawyer for an accused cult leader and “Dances With Wolves” actor asked a judge on Wednesday to throw out all charges against him.

Deputy Public Defender Kristy Holston argued that Nathan Chasing Horse’s imprisonment is unlawful because state prosecutors haven’t established probable cause for any of the 19 felony counts he is facing, including allegations that he sexually assaulted a teenage girl and a woman and that he was trafficking drugs.

“Because the state has overreached in its prosecution of this case, there are multiple reasons for every count in this indictment to be dismissed,” Holston said.

After Holston argued that the state has failed to show that the victims did not consent to the sex, prosecutor Stacy Kollins disputed this. Kollins said grand jury testimony from the younger victim — she was 14 at the time of the first alleged sex assault and is now 25 — indicates she didn’t want sex.

“The record is replete with, ‘I didn’t have a choice,’” Kollins said. “She says that repeatedly: ‘I feel like I didn’t have a choice.’ And again, submission is not consent.”

District Judge Carli Kierny said she would take some time to consider both sides’ arguments and issue a decision by the end of the week.

Chasing Horse, 46, played the role of Smiles A Lot in the 1990 Kevin Costner movie “Dances With Wolves” and is accused of committing the crimes alleged against him while operating a cult known as The Circle.

He was arrested Jan. 31 after police raided his North Las Vegas home where he lived with up to half a dozen women he considered wives, according to an arrest report.

Chasing Horse has pleaded not guilty to the 19 felony charges in the indictment, which include sexual assault of a minor under 16, sexual assault, kidnapping, open and gross lewdness and drug trafficking.

Also among the arguments that Holston said render the indictment against Chasing Horse worthy of being tossed out is that the state failed to present to the grand jury exculpatory evidence as required by Nevada law, or in other words, evidence that could possibly absolve Chasing Horse.

According to grand jury transcripts, the 14-year-old girl testified that her mother — who had been diagnosed with cancer — had sent her to Las Vegas to ask Chasing Horse for help because he was seen as a healer in their community. Chasing Horse, in turn, is alleged to have told the girl that she needed to have sex with him in exchange for her mother’s healing.

Because of this exchange, Holston called the sex “transactional” and therefore not sex assault.

“According to her testimony, her motive or reason for having sex with Nathan was transactional,” Holston said. “It was in exchange for Nathan doing something for her. Sex for a transactional purpose is not sex assault.”

Kollins said it was offensive to describe the alleged sex assault as transactional.

“So she’s taken there at 14 because her mom is ill and told that her virginity is the only pure part of her left, and she has to sacrifice this to maintain her mom’s health,” Kollins said. “And to gloss over that by calling it transactional … well, that’s taking a lot of license, to me, with the facts in here.”

Holston’s petition also included other arguments for getting the indictment dismissed. Because police found magic mushrooms, or 236 grams of psilocin, in the refrigerator of Chasing Horse’s home, a place where he lived with several other people, it couldn’t be proved that he possessed the drugs, let alone was trafficking them, the petition said.

Kollins argued that because the drugs were found in Chasing Horse’s home, he possessed them.

On Tuesday, District Judge Carli Kierny set his trial for May 1, which still falls within the 60-day requirement for a speedy trial that Chasing Horse requested when he was arraigned in March.

Contact Brett Clarkson at bclarkson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BrettClarkson_ on Twitter. Staff writer Katelyn Newberg contributed to this report.

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