Sundance Film Festival Co-Founder Sterling Van Wagenen Gets at Least 6 Years in Prison on Sex Abuse Charges
TO THE SLAMMER
A co-founder of the Sundance Film Festival has been sentenced to at least six years in prison after pleading guilty to the sexual abuse of a child. Prosecutors say Sterling Van Wagenen, 72, touched a young girl inappropriately on two separate occasions between 2013 and 2015, the Associated Press reports. Van Wagenen pleaded guilty to the charges as part of a plea deal earlier this year. The judge who served the sentence said he hopes the parole board will keep Van Wagenen in prison for longer. During the hearing, the victim, who is now a teenager, spoke out against Van Wagenen, reading from a letter: “I strongly believe the only thing you were actually torn up about is the fact that you got caught.”
Van Wagenen co-founded the festival that came to be known as Sundance in 1978, and served as the Sundance Institute’s founding executive director. He was also a producer on the 1985 film The Trip to Bountiful, which earned actress Geraldine Page an Academy Award. Van Wagenen previously worked as a film instructor at Brigham Young University and the University of Utah, the latter of which he resigned from after being accused of molesting a boy in 1993.