Sundance Film Festival Co-Founder Sterling Van Wagenen Pleads Guilty to Child Sex Abuse

Filmmaker was charged earlier this month with felony aggravated sexual abuse

Last Updated: April 30, 2019 @ 12:15 PM

Filmmaker and Sundance Film Festival co-founder Sterling Van Wagenen has pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of a child.

Van Wagenen entered the plea on Tuesday in American Fork, Utah, Van Wagenen’s attorney Steven Shapiro confirmed to TheWrap.

A spokesperson for the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office told TheWrap earlier this month that Van Wagenen was charged on April 2 with felony aggravated sexual abuse, but was released on $75,000 bail. Prosecutors alleged he inappropriately touched a young girl twice between 2013 and 2015.

According to Fox 13 Now, he faces a sentence of six years to life in the Utah State Prison.

Van Wagenen co-founded the prestigious film festival with Robert Redford in 1978. He produced the 1985 drama “The Trip to Bountiful” and directed the 1992 film “Alan & Naomi.” His other credits include 2006’s “The Work and the Glory III: A House Divided,” “The Work and the Glory II: American Zion” and “Learning from Light: The Vision of I.M. Pei.” He also served as executive producer on various projects like 2008’s “Jane and Emma,” 2015’s “Peace Officer” and 2011’s “Berlin.”

In March, The Daily Utah Chronicle reported that Van Wagenen resigned from the University of Utah’s College of Fine Arts following the release of a recording on which he is heard admitting to molesting a minor in 1993. It said that the assault occurred when the child was between the age of 10 and 13 and was sleeping over at Van Wagenen’s house after spending time with his son. The recording was released to the public by the Truth and Transparency Foundation, and Van Wagenen confirmed to ABC4 that it was his voice on the recording, adding “I only hope all this publicity helps the victim heal.”

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