Former U-M music professor pleads guilty to child exploitation charge

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Posted at 3:16 PM, Nov 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-16 15:33:28-05

(WXYZ) — A former University of Michigan music professor pleaded guilty to charges of child exploitation of a minor, according to a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Stephen Shipps, 68, was a violin professor from 1989 to 2019 at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, according to the release. He was also the director of the Strings Preparatory Program, which gave instruction to young musicians. He also reportedly 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 while also teaching students at summer music programs in the Czech Republic, Germany and the United Kingdom.

The United States Attorney’s Office says Shipps retired from the University of Michigan in February of 2019, but that in 2002, the office says, he knowingly transporting a minor girl under the age of 18 across state lines with the intent to engage in sexual activity with her.

“Shipps used his position of trust to sexually exploit a child. 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,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Mohsin in a press release. “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.”

Shipps pleaded guilty to one count of transporting a minor girl across state lines with the intent to engage in sexual conduct; he faces a statutory maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 17.

The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the University of Michigan Police Department assisted.