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

Sterling Van Wagenen. Photo: IMDB

UTAH COUNTY, April 30, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — Sterling Gray Van Wagenen, a co-founder of the Sundance Film Festival and a former director of videos for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has pleaded guilty to aggravated abuse of a child, a first-degree felony.

Van Wagenen entered his plea on Tuesday, waiving his right to a hearing. The child abused was a girl between the ages of 7 and 9 at the time of the abuse, and Van Wagenen held a position of trust in her life.

The plea deal was approved by the victim and her family. Sentencing will happen at a future date.

Sterling Gray Van Wagenen, 71, was charged on April 4 in connection with two incidents that allegedly happened in 2013 and 2015.

A detective with the Sandy City Police Department filed the probable cause statement, which says the alleged victim had told her parents about the abuse, and it was then reported to the Division of Child and Family Services, which alerted police.

The victim said that Van Wagenen rubbed her body under her clothing on both occasions, one in her Salt Lake County home and one in Utah County.

“Later when they went to lunch, Van Wagenen asked her if the touching had bothered her,” the statement says.

“Van Wagenen said that he did the same to (an adult female the child knew), and if it made her uncomfortable, he wouldn’t do it anymore. (The girl) told him it did make her uncomfortable, and Van Wagenen said he wouldn’t do it again.”


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