Sundance co-founder sentenced to six years

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After pleading guilty to the sexual abuse of a minor, Sterling Van Wagenen, who co-founded the Sundance Film Festival with Robert Redford, was sentenced to the minimum six years to life in prison on Tuesday.

Judge Robert Griffin recommended to the parole board that Van Wagenen, 72, be kept in prison longer than the minimum sentence.

He then commended the young victim for reporting what happened. Prosecutors say Van Wagenen touched the girl, whose name is being withheld, on two occasions between 2013 and 2015.

“You did the right thing and you’re not responsible for anything that happened and anything that will happen,” said Griffin during the hearing south of Salt Lake City. “You’re a brave young lady.”

According to the Associated Press, Van Wagenen declined to apologize when he spoke to the victim and her family.

“It’s clear that any kind of apology I can make is meaningless at this point,” Van Wagenen 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.”

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Van Wagenen was a producer on the 1985 film The Trip to Bountiful, which earned the late actress Geraldine Page an Academy Award.

He also co-founded the Sundance Film Festival in Utah in 1978, and became its first executive director two years later.

He has worked over the 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.

Source: Associated Press