Sundance Film Festival co-founder pleads guilty to child sex abuse

Pervert Sterling Van Wagenen

From Hollywood Reporter: A filmmaker who co-founded the Sundance Film Festival and produced an Oscar-winning movie in the mid-1980s pleaded guilty Tuesday to sexual abuse of a child.

Sterling Van Wagenen, 71, entered the plea as part of an agreement that includes a sentence of six years to life. He plans to plead guilty to a second charge involving the same victim later this week, his attorney Steven Shapiro said.

Van Wagenen’s acceptance of the plea deal was a surprise, given that he had just been charged earlier this month and it came during his first court appearance. Shapiro said his client decided to waive his right to other hearings to resolve the case quickly and avoid further harm to his family.

Van Wagenen wanted to “acknowledge wrongful conduct,” Shapiro said.

Prosecutors charged Van Wagenen with inappropriately touching a girl between the ages of 7 and 9 on two occasions between 2013 and 2015 in two northern Utah cities. He is scheduled to be formally sentenced on July 2.

Van Wagenen co-founded a Utah film festival that came to be known as Sundance Film Festival with Robert Redford and was the Sundance Institute’s founding executive director, but hasn’t been with the organization for more than two decades.

He was a producer on the 1985 film The Trip to Bountiful, a story of an elderly woman who longs to return to her home that earned the late actress Geraldine Page an Academy Award for her starring performance.

Van Wagenen has worked over the years as a film instructor at the University of Utah and Brigham Young University and as a director and producer for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on a variety of projects, including temple videos.

He resigned from his part-time instructor position at the University of Utah’s Film and Media Arts Department on Feb. 15 after being put on administrative leave on Feb. 5, university spokesman Chris Nelson said.

Van Wagenen’s resignation came after a man came forward to accuse Van Wagenen of molesting him as a boy in 1993. No charges have been filed in that case, which was made public by a website that serves as a watchdog for The Church of Jesus of Latter-day Saints, widely known as the Mormon Church.

Van Wagenen was the executive director of the 2018 historical tale Jane and Emma about a black woman’s friendship with the wife of Joseph Smith, the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


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Dr. Eowyn
1 year ago

Advanced age doesn’t seem to stop pedophiles. Van Wagenen the creep is 71 years old. God help us.

1 year ago

His offense was relatively minor (just to clarify, I think all sexual offenses involving children are serious and deserving of capital punishment) and I have the sense that someone in DOJ is nibbling at the edges of massive organized pedophile rings trying to get these low-level perps to flip and name names. Time will tell. The Trip to Bountiful was a great movie, very touching and moving. It just goes to show..something. I don’t know what

1 year ago

I agree, Trip to Bountiful was a great movie. Page was such a great actress.

I take it this guy is a Mormon? At least he admitted wrong doing. What about all those Jewish pedos running hollyweird who rape little boys and the police don’t touch them? When will they be held accountable?

1 year ago

Jail time, castration would be appropriate [he] needs to remember why, and I hope he gets out of jail in a cardboard box.

1 year ago

Clip from Trip to Bountiful, Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling, sung by Cynthia Clawson. Achingly beautiful IMO. Not quite off topic 🙂