This just in, a filmmaker who is known for producing a movie whose lead actress won an Oscar in the mid-1980s and who also happens to be the co-founder of the Sundance Film Festival was sentenced to at least six-years imprisonment after he pledged guilty to child sexual abuse.
Sterling Van Wagenen came into the limelight last Tuesday after his sentence became public. The judge who delivered the sentencing said that he hopes the parole board will keep the guilty in prison longer than the minimum sentence for such heinous crime.
The sentence was delivered by judge Robert Griffin, who said that the young victim who reported the crime should be commended for her courage and encouraged victims to come forward with their stories.
According to the prosecutors, Sterling Van Wagenen touched a young girl on different occasions between 2013 and 2015.
Judge Griffin applauded the victim who came forward and put influence on the fact that a victim shouldn’t be ashamed of anything because she didn’t do anything wrong. Instead, she should be proud of herself for speaking up against people who abuse their power.
The hearing was held at the South of Lake City where the preparations of the Sundance Film Festival 2020 have already begun. The sister of the victim whose name we cannot disclose because she is the victim of sexual abuse herself read a letter on her sister’s behalf during the hearing.
She blasted Sterling Van Wagenen for being a coward and said, “I strongly believe the only thing you were actually torn up about is the fact that you got caught”.
After pleading guilty to the jury, Sterling Van Wagenen declined to apologize to the victim and the family. “It’s clear that any kind of apology I can make is meaningless at this point,” he said. “So I am not even going to attempt one. I want you all to know I feel the consequences of what I’ve done. I feel them deeply.”
Van Wagenen pleaded guilty twice earlier this year to two counts of sexual abuse with the same victim.
Sterling Van Wagenen was a global name because he founded the Sundance Film Festival with Robert Redford in Utah City. He was also the founding executive director of the Sundance Institute but has been attached to the organization for over 20-years.
He was the producer of 1985 film, “The Trip To Bountiful” which was a story about an elderly woman who longed to get back to her home that was played by Geraldine Page. The actress won an Academy Award for her brilliant performance in the movie.
Sterling Van Wagenen has worked for the past several years as a film instructor at the University of Utah and Brigham Young University and as a director and producer for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on a variety of projects, including temple videos.
According to the spokesman of the University of Utah, Sterling Van Wagenen resigned from his position as the film instructor back on February 15, 2019.
Sterling Van Wagenen’s resignation came after a man accused him of molestation back in 1993 when he was just a boy. The man didn’t press charges in that case but the story was made public by a website that serves as the watchdog of The Church of Jesus of Latter-day Saints, widely known as the Mormon Church.
Van Wagenen thanked the man that it was a blessing for him that he brought everything to light in the courtroom.
For more scoop on the Sundance Festival, stay tuned with us.