Sundance co-founder faces child sex abuse charge

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – The co-founder of the Sundance Film Festival is accused of child sex abuse.

Sterling Gray Van Wagenen, 71, is charged with one count of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, a first-degree felony.

According to a probable cause statement, Sandy police received a report that a young girl told her parents she was touched inappropriately by Van Wagenen on two occasions between 2013 and 2015 when she was between the ages 7 and 9.

Documents state, one of the occasions happened at the girl’s home. The girl said she was sitting on Van Wagenen’s lap when he allegedly put his hands under her underwear and molested her.

According to the website Truth for Transparency, Van Wagenen admitted to child molestation in an interview with another alleged victim.

That victim, who asked to be called “David,” reached out to Van Wagenen in September 2018 to get closure on the incident he claims happened in the early ‘90s. He recorded their conversation, in which Van Wagenen allegedly admits to molesting the then 13-year-old during a sleepover. 

If convicted, Van Wagenen faces 15 years to life in prison. 

Van Wagenen has directed and produced more than a dozen films, documentaries and TV series. He is also credited as founding executive director of the Sundance Institute. 

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