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Sundance Film Festival co-founder charged with sex abuse

April 12, 2019

Sterling Van Wagenen, one of the co-founders of the Sundance Film Festival, has been charged with aggravated sexual abuse.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, he was charged on April 2 and is currently out on $75,000 bail.

The 71-year-old filmmaker and producer is accused of sexually abusing a child on or about January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2015 when the child was seven and nine, according to court documents.

Van Wagenen is scheduled to return to court on May 2.

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 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.

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A spokesperson for the Sundance Institute said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, “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.”

He and Robert Redford co-founded the Sundance Film Festival.

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