Retired U-M music professor faces up to 15 years for sex charges after guilty plea

A former University of Michigan professor pleaded guilty to one count of transporting a minor girl across state lines with the intent to engage in sexual conduct.

Stephen Shipps, 68, of Ann Arbor made the plea, announced the Acting United States Attorney, Saima Mohsin on Tuesday.  Shipps faces a statutory maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison when he is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 17 of 2022.

From February and March of 2002, as well as in June and July of 2002, court records state that Shipps knowingly transported a minor girl, who was under 18 years old, across state lines, and he intended to engage in sexual activity with her.

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

From 1989 to 2019, Shipps worked in the School of Music at U-M as a violin professor and was director of the Strings Preparatory Program, which offered instruction to young musicians ranging from elementary school through high school-age.

Related: Ex-music professor at University of Michigan expected to plead guilty to sex charges

Shipps retired from the University of Michigan in February 2019. He also 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. Shipps taught students at summer music programs in the Czech Republic, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

"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," said James C. Harris, acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations field offices in Michigan and Ohio. "This case underscores HSI’s commitment to give credibility to all allegations of sexual exploitation of minors and to bring some measure of justice to the victims."