×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Sundance Film Festival Co-Founder Sentenced to Six Years for Child Sex Abuse

Sterling Van Wagenen, who co-founded the Sundance Film Festival, has been sentenced to at least six years in prison after pleading guilty to sexual abuse of a child.

Judge Robert Griffin delivered the sentence in a Utah court on Tuesday. He said during the proceeding that he hoped the parole board will keep the 72-year-old Van Wagenen in prison longer than the minimum.

Griffin also commended the young victim for reporting that Van Wagenen had touched her on two occasions between 2013 and 2015. Van Wagenen was charged April 2 with sexually abusing a child starting in 2013 when the child was seven years old.

The Sundance Institute issued a statement in April denouncing Van Wagenen and said he has not been connected to the festival since 1993.

Van Wagenen had resigned as a film professor in March from the University of Utah after allegedly admitting in a recording to molesting a minor in 1993, according to the Daily Utah Chronicle. The recording was released to the public by the Truth and Transparency Foundation, which operates the MormonLeaks platform for whistleblowers within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Van Wagenen co-founded Sundance Film Festival with Robert Redford in 1978 as as the Utah/US Film Festival when Van Wagenen was head of Redford’s production company. The festival officially became the Sundance Film Festival in 1991. Van Wagenen produced the 1985 drama “The Trip to Bountiful,” for which Geraldine Page won an Academy Award for best actress.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Awkwafina Jumanji Next Level Premiere

    'The Farewell's' Awkwafina on Her First Golden Globe Nomination, Female Director Snubs

    Awkwafina just might’ve had her best Monday ever. Shortly after 5 a.m., the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. announced that she’d earned her first Golden Globe nomination (as best actress in a motion picture – musical or comedy) for her performance in “The Farewell.” But she didn’t have a ton of time to celebrate, since she [...]

  • Bhumi Pednekar

    IFFAM-Variety's Asian Stars: Up Next Program is Helping Talent Cross Over

    Eight young stars accepted the “Asian Stars: Up Next” award on Tuesday intended to recognize and promote Asian on-screen talent who have established themselves in their home market but have the potential to cross borders onto the global stage. The awards are issued by the International Film Festival & Awards Macao and Variety, and were [...]

  • Mo'Nique

    Mo'Nique to Play 'Badass Black Woman' in New Film 'Mother Trucker'

    Mo’Nique has signed on for the lead role in the independent action-adventure “Mother Trucker.” The movie is written by J. Oyer Tomas, former HBO executive producer, and set during the Congressional impeachment hearings to remove President Richard Nixon from office. Nixon resigned in 1974. Mo’Nique will portray a mother, struggling with anger management issues, who [...]

  • Bellbird review

    Macao Film Review: 'Bellbird'

    Mild, mellow and as life-affirming as a soft fall of springtime New Zealand rain, Hamish Bennett’s charming if overfamiliar debut feature “Bellbird” — so named after a species of avian indigenous to the region, which Captain Cook reportedly described as having a song “like small bells, exquisitely tuned” — is a fondly bittersweet tribute to [...]

  • Wisdom Tooth

    Macao Film Review: 'Wisdom Tooth'

    Slippery and surprising, full of odd details and insights, and leaching significant visual and thematic texture from its unusual setting, Liang Ming’s “Wisdom Tooth” must be one of the year’s most remarkable debuts. Set in a depressed Chinese fishing town close to the Korean border during the first snow flurries of winter, the film is [...]

  • Mattie Do

    'Long Walk' Director Mattie Do Has Fun With Asian Horror

    Laos’ first and only female filmmaker Mattie Do, whose thriller “The Long Walk” screened in the International Film Festival and Awards Macao’s world panorama section, tumbled into her profession with a dose of liquid courage. She’d recently moved to Laos from the U.S. to take care of her father, who’d moved back after her mother [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content