Former University of Michigan violin professor Steven Shipps pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to one count of transporting a minor girl across state lines with the intent to engage in sexual conduct.
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, Shipps 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.
The charges stem from incidents that are alleged to have occurred in 2002. Click here to read the indictment.
Shipps, 68, was set to stand trial on Nov. 23 for two counts of of transporting a minor girl across state lines to engage in sexual activity. He was facing up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. According to The Detroit News, Shipps entered the guilty plea as part of a deal with prosecutors that "dismissed a similar charge involving the same girl." Under that agreement, the sentence will not exceed 71 months (just under six years) in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 17, 2022.
"Shipps used his position of trust to sexually exploit a child," said Acting U.S. Attorney Mohsin in a statement issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Michigan. "Well-regarded music professors at prestigious universities with competitive music programs like the University of Michigan enjoy tremendous influence within the music community. These professors often have the ability to make or break careers. Stephen Shipps was an influential and highly sought after violin professor who had successfully launched many careers. I commend the brave young woman who stepped forward and exposed Shipps’s abuse. This case proves that the passage of time, no matter how long, will not deter us from bringing to justice those who prey on our most vulnerable."
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