AP

Sundance Film Festival co-founder pleads guilty to sex abuse

Apr 30, 2019, 1:06 PM
sundance filmmaker...
Sterling VanWagenen signs an agreement with his attorney, Steven Shapiro, as he pleads guilty during his initial appearance in American Fork on Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Photo: Rick Egan, Salt Lake Tribune / Pool

AMERICAN FORK, Utah (AP) — A Utah filmmaker who co-founded the Sundance Film Festival and produced an Oscar-winning movie in the mid-1980s has pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of a child.

Sterling Van Wagenen entered the plea Tuesday during a court hearing in American Fork, Utah, south of Salt Lake City. Van Wagenen’s attorney Steven Shapiro said that his client wanted to “acknowledge wrongful conduct.”

Prosecutors charged Van Wagenen earlier this month on accusations that he inappropriately touched a young girl on two occasions between 2013 and 2015.

The 71-year-old co-founded a Utah film festival that came to be known as Sundance Film Festival with Robert Redford, but hasn’t been with the organization for more than two decades.

He was a producer on the 1985 film “The Trip to Bountiful.”

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Sundance Film Festival co-founder pleads guilty to sex abuse