Sundance Film Festival Co-Founder Charged with Sexual Assault of a Minor

Sterling Van Wagenen has been charged with one count of felony sexual abuse

Sterling Van Wagenen
Sterling Van Wagenen in 2015

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The Utah filmmaker who co-founded the Sundance Film Festival has been charged with sexually abusing a young girl.

Sterling Van Wagenen is accused of inappropriately touching the minor on two occasions between 2013 and 2015, reported USA Today. The victim was between the ages of seven and nine when the abuse occurred.

The case was reported to police by child protective services after the girl told her parents about the incident. A probable case statement detailing the charges was filed on April 4.

Van Wagenen posted $75,000 bail and is expected to appear in court on May 2 for a scheduled hearing. Steven Shapiro, Van Wagenen’s attorney, denied USA Today’s request for comment. Van Wagenen also reportedly neglected to return a phone call and email from the outlet.

The 77-year-old co-founded the Sundance Film Festival back in 1978 while serving as the head of Wildwood, Robert Redford’s production company.

Van Wagenen later went on to produce the 1985 film, The Trip to Bountiful, for which the late Geraldine Page took home an Oscar.

The sexual assault allegations follow Van Wagenen’s recent resignation from his position as part-time instructor at the University of Utah’s Film and Media Arts Department. The part-time university staffer had been placed on administrative leave after a man accused Van Wagenen of molestation. The unnamed accuser claimed Van Wagenen sexually assaulted him when he was a child back in 1993. No charges have been filed in that case. According to USA Today, the case was made public by the Truth and Transparency Foundation, the nonprofit organization behind a website that apparently serves as a watchdog for the Mormon church.

Van Wagenen has yet to enter a plea to the most recent charge against him, one count of felony sexual abuse of a child.

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