Former Michigan Violin Professor Stephen Shipps Arrested and Charged with Transporting Minor for Sex

October 30, 2020, 12:02 PM · Former University of Michigan violin professor Steven Shipps, 67, was arrested on Thursday on two charges of transporting a minor girl across state lines to engage in sexual activity. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in federal prison.

Steven Shipps

The charges stem from incidents that are alleged to have occurred in 2002. Click here to read the indictment.

In a video statement, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said that the investigation is ongoing. "We are asking for the public's help to fully investigate this case," Schneider said. "For over 20 years, Stephen Shipps had close interactions with many young girls who were gifted musicians. Shipps met with these young girls both inside and outside of the State of Michigan. We are asking anyone who has additional information about the alleged crimes committed by Stephen Shipps to call the tip line that has been set up by the Department of Homeland Security." The phone number for the tipline is 1-866-347-2423, and the e-mail is hsi-shipps-investigation@ice.dhs.gov.

"Our determination and commitment to seeking justice for victims has no time limit," he said.

Shipps taught at the University of Michigan's School of Music, Theatre & Dance from 1989 until he retired in February 2019, following a December 2018 article in The Michigan Daily that described allegations of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct against Shipps that spanned a 40-year time period. At the time of his retirement, he was Chair of the Department of Strings. He was also director of the String Preparatory Academy, a pre-college music program for middle school and high school students. Before coming to Michigan he taught at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, from 1980 to 1989.

Shipps was placed on administrative leave Dec. 7, 2018, shortly after the allegations became public.

"He was instructed at that time to have no contact with students, never returned to campus and retired from the university effective Feb. 28, 2019. The university cooperated fully with the federal investigation," said University of Michigan spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald.

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Replies

October 31, 2020 at 01:27 PM · My daughters both studied at NCSA. Thank heavens they started arriving (one after the other) just after he left. They went to study with Elaine Richey. It is my understanding, unsubstantiated but out there anyway, that he was made to resign from NCSA for such predatory sexual behavior. It seems this was one of the few schools who wouldn't tolerate his behavior. You may ask why they didn't prosecute him but those were different times and perhaps the student in question didn't want to press charges. But they got rid of him. How could the U of Michigan put up with this, not to mention hire him? And for so many years? Are good teachers really is such short supply? The thought that this could have happened to my daughters who were both in dormitories at NCSA from the age of 15 (but didn't happen because the admins there protected young women) makes my blood run cold. My daughters were protected (and had a great experience at NCSA), but my heart bleeds for those whose daughters were not and the young women whose lives were severely impacted, if not ruined, while the administrators blithely looked the other way.

October 31, 2020 at 03:33 PM · Eloise, never underestimate the cowardice of the people in power at big institutions.

It's crazy going back through the old threads linked there at the bottom on this topic and seeing all the constant wagon-circling. I wonder if all the sycophants in those threads talking about how the reporting was trash or whatever are still willing to defend, or if they are staying quiet.

I wonder how many institutions have these kinds of problems?

October 31, 2020 at 04:19 PM · We have grade school age daughters, but even at their young age we teach them the following:

1. A person's personal accomplishment in music, sports, or whatever endeavor it may be, does not necessarily translate or cross over to that person's character. Just look at the number of sports figures, music figures, etc., who have been caught doing socially despicable, heinous, and criminal acts.

2. As much as there are good people in the world who are genuinely interested in helping them accomplish their goals or are cheering for them to succeed (aside from their parents), there are also bad people who are out there lurking to harm them physically and/or emotionally.

3. We are teaching our children to be "street smart". Not be gullible, timid, nor be afraid of anyone, and yet be respectful of others.

4. We encourage them to speak out, and yes, even defend themselves physically if necessary. That's why they're taking MMA private lessons (aside from violin, piano, and ballet), so they can kick a bad person's "behind" should that bad person try to harm them physically.

As parents we realize we cannot always protect our children. But we can equip them as best we could so that they may be able to discern what to do in any given situation, and if need be, how to protect themselves.

I believe raising a confident child with the right convictions can do a lot to deter situations where they are compromised.

November 2, 2020 at 05:18 PM · Ben, with respect, I think you are way underestimating the automatic deference and vulnerability of a gifted student studying with a prominent teacher. “I can kick this guy‘s butt“ is far less likely to be the student’s thought than “he could ruin my career“ or “nobody will believe me.”

By all means empower your daughters, but let’s not shift the responsibility of stopping this evil behavior away from the predators.

November 2, 2020 at 06:11 PM · That's quite a dilemma isn't it? Specially for a young adult.

I don't advocate shifting the responsibility away from the predators. But rather I am advocating equipping your child the tools she will need so that she can be confident enough to realize that reporting a despicable incident is not going to ruin their career. And this goes beyond just the music industry.

I also believe times are changing with the emergence of the #MeToo movement and all. So I believe in my opinion, people are less likely to doubt a true victim and their stories.

Besides, nowadays, there are technologies that will help a victim before they become a victim. It's very easy to record despicable acts nowadays without the predator even knowing it.

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