Actress Q’orianka Kilcher, who has been in “The New World” and “Yellowstone,” is accused of getting disability benefits even though she was able to work. She is being charged with a crime.
Kilcher is being charged with two counts of workers’ compensation fraud, which are both felonies. After hurting her neck and shoulder while making “Dora and the Lost City of Gold,” she allegedly got $96,838 in benefits.
But, according to a news release from the California Department of Insurance on Monday, investigators found that she was healthy enough to work on “Yellowstone” the following year, even though she said she was disabled at the time.
The charges were made public by the department on Monday, but Kilcher was brought to court on May 27 and pleaded not guilty. In a statement to Variety, her lawyer denied the claims and said that Kilcher “never knowingly took benefits she didn’t think she was entitled to.”
Michael Becker, Ms. Kilcher’s lawyer, said, “Because of this, Ms. Kilcher will fight hard for herself and asks that she be treated as innocent both inside and outside of court.”
Kilcher is best known for her role as Pocahontas in Terrence Malick’s “The New World,” which came out in 2005. She also played the title role in the 2009 movie “Princess Kaiulani,” which was about the colonization of Hawaii. In the 2019 movie “Dora,” she played Kawillaka, an Inca princess. In season three of “Yellowstone,” which aired in 2020, she was in four episodes.
In October 2018, Kilcher was hurt in the neck and right shoulder while filming the movie “Dora.” When the accident happened, her lawyer said, she was a passenger in a production vehicle.
According to the Department of Insurance, she went to the doctor a few times after that, but then she stopped going and didn’t answer when her employer’s insurance company asked her about it.
The department says that Kilcher called the insurance company a year later, in October 2019, to get help. She is said to have told the doctor who took care of her claim that her neck pain had gotten so bad that she had to turn down jobs and hadn’t worked in a year. The department said that she began getting temporary total disability benefits right away.
Later, when investigators looked at Kilcher’s pay stubs, they saw that he had worked on “Yellowstone” from July 2019 to October 2019, right before he went to get help. The department says that Kilcher had been out of work for only five days before he started getting benefits. The department said that the doctor later said that he would never have approved the payments if he had known about her recent work history.
Kilcher’s lawyer said she had never been dishonest.
“Third-party doctors confirmed that she was hurt and that she was eligible for benefits,” Becker said in the statement. “Ms. Kilcher was always honest with her doctors and other people who helped her.”
The lawyer said that she also kept her caseworker at the Division of Workers’ Compensation up to date on what was going on.
The case is being handled by Christopher Hartman, who is a prosecutor with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Kilcher’s next court date is set for August 7.