LOCAL NEWS

Utah Filmmaker Pleads Guilty Again To Sexually Abusing Child

May 2, 2019, 12:43 PM
Sterling Van Wagenen enters guilty plea in Salt Lake County...
Sterling Van Wagenen enters guilty plea in Salt Lake County

WEST JORDAN, Utah – Utah filmmaker Sterling Van Wagenen pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a young girl. It’s the second such plea he’s made in a week’s time.

Van Wagenen, 71, appeared in Salt Lake County’s Third District Court in West Jordan on Thursday. He also pleaded guilty on Tuesday in a separate abuse case involving the same victim that reportedly happened in Utah County.

“Today was a virtually identical situation as Tuesday’s,” said Van Wagenen’s attorney Steven Shapiro. “The only difference being this was an incident that occurred on this side of the county line. Same conduct, same alleged victim.”

Shapiro said prosecutors in both Salt Lake and Utah counties agreed to seek sentences of at least six years and up to life in prison — to be served concurrently — in exchange for  Van Wagenen’s guilty pleas.

As he did on Tuesday, Van Wagenen waived his right to a trial.

Shapiro said his client has accepted his wrongdoing and wants to move forward without further harming the victim or her family with what could have been more than a year in court proceedings.

Van Wagenen is currently in treatment and will remain free until his sentencing hearing, which will take place July 2 in Utah County.

The former University of Utah and BYU employee is known for co-founding the Sundance Film Festival.

KSL’s Annie Knox contributed to this report.

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Utah Filmmaker Pleads Guilty Again To Sexually Abusing Child