Sandy Police Investigating Van Wagenen for Second Instance of Sex Abuse

Ryan McKnight

Ryan McKnight

Published

A document received through an open records request by the Truth & Transparency Foundation (TTF) from the Sandy Police Department has revealed that Van Wagenen is currently under investigation for a sex offense.

In February, the TTF released a recording in which Sterling Van Wagenen, a noted executive producer and director of various film projects financed by the Mormon Church, admitted to molesting a 13-year-old boy in 1993.

At the time of the abuse, Van Wagenen confessed his actions to his local ecclesiastical leaders and received a formal disfellowshipment of 2 years. Additionally, Van Wagenen went to the local police and confessed his crime; no charges were filed.

In the recording, Van Wagenen claims this was the only instance of non-consensual sexual contact with another person. New information shows this may not be true.

The document, dated February 21, 2019, does not contain Van Wagenen’s name and the location of the incident is redacted. However, the request yielding the document asked for any recent “initial contact reports” involving Van Wagenen.

Initial contact reports differ from police reports and are always deemed public under Utah’s Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA). The amount of data found in them vary from agency to agency. In this particular report, the Sandy PD offers very limited information, only indicating the date, offense, location, priority, and officer assigned to the case.

Further, two other GRAMA requests were submitted by the TTF requesting all other police reports and investigative files involving the perpetrator. The investigative files were denied by Sandy City’s Chief Administrative Officer, Matthew Huish, saying the investigation is ongoing and the “release of the investigative files can reasonably be expected to interfere with an investigation and enforcement proceedings, and would be irresponsible and contrary to generally accepted practices.”

Because of the denial, the status of and the facts surrounding the incident are unknown. A response concerning the release of the requested police reports is yet to be issued by Sandy City.

Van Wagenen did not respond to a request for comment before the publication of this story.


Ethan Gregory Dodge contributed to the reporting of this story.

If you are a survivor a abuse, below are a list of resources that can be utilized in the United States. If you are not a resident of the US, we encourage you to search for resources near you.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP)

National Sexual Assault Hotline


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