LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The mother of a woman at the center of the Las Vegas criminal case against accused sexual predator Nathan Chasing Horse said she regrets her devotion to the “Dances With Wolves” actor.
Melissa Leone sat down with the 8 News Now Investigators to share her story.
“It’s torture. It’s torture,” she said. “It’s absolute torture.”
Her daughter, Corena Leone, formerly Corena Chasing Horse, is one of two alleged victims in the combined 18 criminal counts Chasing Horse faces. This includes 10 counts of sexual assault against a minor under the age of 16, six counts of sexual assault, along with open and gross lewdness, and first-degree kidnapping of a minor.
Melissa Leone told the 8 News Now Investigators that she was diagnosed with cancer when Corena was 14 years old. They asked Chasing Horse, a self-proclaimed “Medicine Man” and spiritual leader, for help to heal her.
Corena said that Chasing Horse took her into a closet for a private talk.
“What happened there was rape and there’s no other label to put on it,” she said.
Chasing Horse told her that the price to save her ill mother would be her purity, Corena said.
“And so he had me take off my maxi dress and lay it under me, and it happened,” she said.
Corena told the 8 News Now Investigators that she did not tell anyone at the time.
“He said that it’s a sacred secret between me and the grandfathers and if I told, it would make her help go away,” Corena said.
“The very idea that my daughter went through that. She chose my life over hers,” Melissa said. “It made me just want to hold her and I wish I could take it all back.”
When Corena turned 16, Chasing Horse asked Melissa if the teen could be his wife, according to the mother and daughter.
“I think I was so brainwashed by then, I looked at it as some kind of honor that he chose my daughter,” Melissa said. “I was so sick in the head at that point that it was an honor and I would walk around ‘The Circle’ with almost kind of feeling more entitled or privileged than the other women.”
Corena said at the age of 18, she moved in with Chasing Horse as his seventh wife, and sexual, physical, and verbal abuse escalated. She said she left in late 2021.
Slowly, Corena said she began to reveal to her mother what had happened.
“Every day, I have to wake up and convince myself, I’m a good mom,” Melissa said. “But it’s really hard when you know the choice that you made put her in there and I didn’t know, I didn’t know.”
Melissa said looking back, she believes that Chasing Horse was grooming her daughter after they first met him when Corena was about 6 years old. Melissa said that Chasing Horse had also convinced her to leave her husband.
“He told me certain things about my own husband, trying to make me see like that there was no future or hope,” Melissa said. It is a decision that she said she now regrets.
On Jan. 31, Las Vegas Metro police executed a search warrant at Chasing Horse’s North Las Vegas home and arrested him.
On Feb. 22, a Clark County grand jury indicted Chasing Horse for a total of 19 counts.
On April 7, Clark County District Court Judge Carli Kierny dismissed a drug trafficking charge. While Las Vegas Metro Police reported seizing a significant amount of magic mushrooms from Chasing Horse’s home, Kierny wrote in a six-page order that there was no testimony at all about who lived in the home.
“Nor was there any evidence connecting the defendant to the mushrooms, as opposed to another person who resided in that home,” Kierny wrote. “For that reason, Count 19 is hereby dismissed.”
Clark County Public Defender Kristy Holston had previously argued for all of the charges against Chasing Horse to be dropped. In a motion for stay filed on April 10, Holston indicated that she will ask the Nevada Supreme Court to intervene.
The Las Vegas case is the first of several to move forward against Chasing Horse. He faces federal charges along with warrants in Montana and Canada. He also has previously been banned from several Native American reservations.
Chasing Horse previously invoked his right to a speedy trial. He is currently being held in the Clark County Detention Center in downtown Las Vegas. His bail was set at $300,000. He is expected to be back in court on Wednesday.
To reach investigative reporter Vanessa Murphy with any tips or information, email email@example.com.
To contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline, call 1-800-656-4673. To contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, dial 988.