News from an admission of 1993 molestation of the child prompted the University of Utah and a non-profit arts organization in Salt Lake City to distance themselves from filmmaker Sterling Van Wagenen.
Van Wagenen admitted the facts in 1993, confessed to the police and its lay leaders in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He admitted back into the recorded conversation.
Van Wagenen has never been charged with criminal charges, but he was excommunicate – a short sentence of excommunication – of his church.
Late Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the College of Fine Arts of the University of Utah wrote in an email that Van Wagenen "was on administrative leave while the university was reviewing the facts of this case". Van Wagenen has been on the list of professors at the American university. The University's department of film and media arts and its faculty page list an internship program that it was to conduct this spring.
"SLFS supports victims of abuse and honors their courage to come forward," said the nonprofit arts organization in a statement. "We support their healing efforts and we recognize the positive impact they have on improving our society through their courageous deeds."
Van Wagenen did not immediately respond to a call on Wednesday from the Salt Lake Tribune for comments.
The year of the molestation, 1993, was a pivotal year in Van Wagenen's life. That year, he began a six-year career as an assistant professor of film at Brigham Young University, owned by the LDS Church. This coincided with the moment when he was expelled, which he told the Truth and Transparency Foundation for about two years.
A spokesperson for BYU did not comment on the details of Van Wagenen's job. She stated, however, that the Provo School had begun to require its employees that their ecclesiastical leaders back it in 1996, verifying that they were eligible for a "temple recommendation" when it came to the end. they worked for the university.
On the basis of Van Wagenen's statement to the Truth & Transparency Foundation, he would probably have found the goodness of his faith when BYU implemented this policy.
In 1993, Van Wagenen also left the advisory board of Sundance Institute, Utah, his last connection to the artistic group of which he was the founding executive director in 1981. He was chosen for the position by the founder of the institute, Robert Redford, whose wife at the time, Lola, is Van Wagenen's cousin.
Van Wagenen was also co-founder in 1978 of the Utah / U.S Film Festival, the event that will later become the Sundance Film Festival. To this day, he claims his resume as a "co-founder of the Sundance Film Festival".
In a statement released Monday, the Sundance Institute said that it "always stood in solidarity with those whose courage to tell the truth highlights abusive behavior. … We categorically denounce [Van Wagenen’s] behavior described in recent reports. "
Van Wagenen's first credit as a producer is the 1985 drama "The Trip to Bountiful", which won an Academy Award for Geraldine Page. His first feature film as a director, "Alan & Naomi," a new one of its kind, was released in 1992.
He directed the second and third installments of The Work and the Glory, a trilogy based on fictional stories by author Gerald N. Lund on early Mormonism. Last year, he was executive producer of "Jane and EmmaA drama recounting the friendship between Emma Smith, wife of Joseph Smith, founder of the church, and Jane Manning James, a black convert.
Excel Entertainment, the film company owned by Deseret Book that published "Jane and Emma," has not responded to a request for comment.
In 2013, the church chose Van Wagenen to make three new films to be used during the rituals of the last days' temples, according to the Release of Truth and Transparency. These rites are among the holiest ordinances of the faith, reserved for pious members. "Given the sanctity of these ceremonies," the statement said, "Van Wagenen's choice involves good church relations."
Tribune reporter Peggy Fletcher Stack contributed to this story.