Sundance Film Festival Co-Founder Sterling Van Wagenen Charged With Sex Abuse

Sterling VanWagenen - SXSW- Getty-H 2019
Dustin Finkelstein/Getty Images for SXSW

Van Wagenen was charged April 2. He is out on $75,000 bail.

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 to The Hollywood Reporter.

Van Wagenen was charged April 2. He is out on $75,000 bail, authorities told THR.

The 71-year-old filmmaker and producer 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 an Academy Award for best actress. 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, Van Wagenen resigned after allegedly admitting to molesting a minor in 1993, according to The Daily Utah Chronicle. The alleged victim in that case secretly recorded Van Wagenen allegedly admitting to the abuse, according to the newspaper. Van Wagenen was not arrested nor charged in that instance. 

A spokesman for the Sundance Institute said in a statement to THR: "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."