Hollywood Scandals: Van Wagenen, Co-founder of Sundance Film Fest, Charged with Sexual Abuse Felony

Sterling Van Wagenen, who co-founded the Sundance Film Festival, has been charged with felony aggravated sexual abuse, the Salt Lake City District Attorney’s office confirmed. Van Wagenen was charged April 2. He is out on $75,000 bail.

The filmmaker and producer, who’s 71, is accused of sexually abusing a child on or about Jan. 1, 2013 through Dec. 31, 2015 when the child was 7 and 9, according to court documents.

Van Wagenen co-founded Sundance Film Festival with Robert Redford. He was also formerly affiliated with the local non-profit Salt Lake Film Society.
Van Wagenen produced the 1985 drama, The Trip to Bountiful, for which Geraldine Page won a Best Actress Oscar. He directed the 1992 film Alan & Naomi.

Van Wagenen is scheduled to return to court on May 2 for a scheduling hearing.
A former professor at the University of Utah, he resigned after allegedly admitting to molesting a minor in 1993. The alleged victim in that case secretly recorded Van Wagenen allegedly admitting to the abuse. Van Wagenen was not arrested nor charged in that instance.

A spokesman for the Sundance Institute said in a statement: “Recent reports in the press have made us aware of allegations of sexual abuse by Sterling Van Wagenen, who played a role in founding both the Festival and the Institute. He has no current connection to either entity, and hasn’t since he left our Utah Advisory Board in 1993. Sundance Institute categorically denounces his behavior as described in recent reports, and we stand in solidarity with those whose brave truth-telling shines light on abusive behavior.”

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