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Sterling Van Wagenen, 71, is accused of inappropriately touching a girl on two occasions between andaccording to a probable cause statement filed with the charges on April 4. The alleged abuse occurred in two northern Utah cities when the girl was between the ages of 7 and 9, online court records show. Van Wagenen's attorney, Steven Shapiro, declined to comment.Tokal: Kazakh women who seek to become second wives
Van Wagenen didn't return an and phone call. He has not yet entered a plea to one count of felony sexual abuse of. Van Wagenen co-founded a Utah film festival that came to be known as Sundance Film Festival with Robert Redford and was the Sundance Institute's founding executive director, according to his biography on the University of Utah website, where he was a part-time instructor until his recent reation.
Sundance Film Festival officials didn't immediately return an and phone message seeking comment. His affiliation with the organization ended in when he left the advisory board, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
The case was reported to police by child protective services after the girl told her parents about the alleged abuse. Van Wagenen produced the film, "The Trip to Bountiful," a story of an elderly woman who longs to return to her home that earned the late actress Geraldine an Oscar for her starring performance.
More recently, he was a director of the documentary called "Learning from the Light: The Vision of I. Pei" about a well-known architect and an executive director of the historical tale "Jane and Emma" about a black woman's friendship with the wife of Joseph Smith, the founder of The Church of Jesus of Latter-day Saints. He said the university can't provide any more details other than to say he had worked at the university since October Van Wagenen's reation came after a man came forward to accuse Van Wagenen of molesting him as a boy in No charges have been filed in that case, which was made public by a website that serves as a watchdog for The Church of Jesus of Latter-day Saints, widely known as the Mormon church.
The church-owned Brigham Young University in Utah has employed Van Wagenen as an instructor and director of content for its broadcasting arm. University spokeswoman Carri Jenkins didn't immediately return an and phone message seeking comment. Van Wagenen also periodically worked for the church as a producer and director for many years on a variety of projects, church spokesman Eric Hawkins said.
The church wasn't aware of any of Van Wagenen's alleged behaviors until recently and reported them to authorities, Hawkins said. He declined to say if Van Wagenen has been kicked out of the faith, citing church policy to keep personal matters private.
The church considers child abuse to be among the most serious sins and that anyone who commits the act should be held able, Hawkins said.
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Sundance Film Festival co-founder charged with sex abuse