Ex-University of Michigan Professor Stephen Shipps pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Detroit to transporting an underage girl across state lines to engage in sex. She was 16 at the time.
Shipps, 68, of Ann Arbor worked at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance as a violin professor from 1989 to 2019. He also directed the Strings Preparatory Program, which taught young musicians ranging from elementary to high school. He retired from U-M in 2019.
Additionally, he served on the faculties of Indiana University, the North Carolina School of the Arts, the University of Nebraska – Omaha, and the Banff Centre in Canada, and taught students at summer music programs in the Czech Republic, Germany and the United Kingdom.
Federal authorities allege that on at least two occasions in 2002 he transported the 16-year-old girl from Michigan to New York to engage in sex. The legal age of consent in New York is 17.
The charge carries a maximum of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
“Shipps used his position of trust to sexually exploit a child," said Detroit U.S. Attorney Saima Mohsin 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."