Ex-University of Michigan professor pleads guilty to exploiting girl for sex

Stephen Shipps (Photo: University of Michigan)

ANN ARBOR – Former University of Michigan professor Stephen Shipps has pleaded guilty to one count of transporting a minor across state lines for sex, Acting United States Attorney Saima Mohsin announced on Tuesday.

The 68-year-old former violin professor was employed at U-M’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance from 1989 to 2019. During his teaching years, he also directed the Strings Preparatory Program, which taught musicians ranging in age from elementary school to high school.

According to a Michigan Daily investigation from 2018, several former students of Shipps’ came forward accusing him of sexual assault, unwanted touching, sexual relationships with teenage pupils and making sexist and misogynistic comments. Some of those allegations dated back to 1978.

Related: Former students bring decades of accusations against University of Michigan music professor

Shipps, who retired from U-M in 2019, was a decorated educator of music, who served on faculties of several universities and taught students in Europe during various summer music programs.

On several occasions in 2002, Shipps knowingly transported an underage girl across state lines with the intent to engage in sexual conduct with her, according to court records.

“Shipps used his position of trust to sexually exploit a child,” Mohsin said in a statement. “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.”

“Thanks to the remarkable bravery of Shipps’ victims and painstaking investigative work by HSI, this disgraced professor is being held accountable for coercing vulnerable young women into sex acts,” acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations field offices in Michigan and Ohio, James C. Harris, said in a statement. “This case underscores HSI’s commitment to give due credibility to all allegations of sexual exploitation of minors and to bring some measure of justice to the victims.”

Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 17 at 11 a.m. where Shipps could face 15 years in federal prison.

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.