Trial date set for former University of Michigan professor charged with transporting minor for sex

Tuesday, December 1, 2020 - 5:15pm

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File Photo/Daily

Former University of Michigan violin professor Stephen Shipps’s jury trial will begin on Dec. 22 at 9 a.m., according to a court document filed Tuesday.

Shipps was indicted in late October on two counts of transporting a minor across state lines with the intent of engaging in sexual contact. According to the indictment, Shipps allegedly knowingly transported a young girl under 18 years old in February and March of 2002 and again in June and July of 2002. If found guilty on both counts, Shipps will face a maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison.

“We are committed to the safety and well-being of the most vulnerable members of our society – our children,” U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said in an October statement. “For over 20 years, Stephen Shipps had close interactions with many young girls who were gifted musicians. Shipps met with these young girls both inside and outside of the State of Michigan. Our determination and commitment to seeking justice for victims has no time limit.”

John Shea, an Ann Arbor criminal defense attorney, currently represents Shipps. He did not immediately respond to request for comment.

This comes two years after The Michigan Daily uncovered nearly four decades of sexual harassment, misconduct and assault allegations against Shipps. Shipps was placed on leave three days before this reporting was published — he officially retired from the University of Michigan in February 2019.

While at the University, Shipps served as a member of the School of Music, Theatre & Dance’s executive committee and an associate dean. 

Allegations against Shipps from his time at the University range from inappropriate verbal statements to non-consensual touching. The claims date from the early 2000s to a U-M-affiliated summer program in the late 2010s.

The Daily also found evidence that the University was first made aware in an email of an allegation of “statutory rape” against Shipps in October 2017. The University did not respond to this complaint until a year after the email was sent.

In a statement to The Daily on Oct. 22, University spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald said Shipps was instructed to have no contact with students after being placed on leave on Dec. 7, 2018. He never returned to campus after being placed on leave, Fitzgerald said.

“The University of Michigan strongly condemns all sexual misconduct,” Fitzgerald said in the statement. “Whether this reprehensible conduct takes place now or took place in the past, it is unacceptable.”

Music, Theatre & Dance Dean David Gier echoed Fitzgerald’s statement in an email to students.

“We remain steadfastly committed to fostering a culture of academic and artistic excellence that is safe, equitable, and inclusive for all students, faculty, and staff - an environment in which everyone can thrive,” Gier wrote.

Shipps was released on $10,000 bail after his arraignment in October. His conditions required that he avoid contact with potential witnesses, adhere to a curfew, submit to GPS monitoring and not have any contact with minors.

The Department of Homeland Security has asked for the public’s help in reporting additional information related to Shipps. The University of Michigan Police Department is supporting the ongoing investigation. Anyone with additional information about alleged crimes committed by Shipps is encouraged to contact the Homeland Security Investigations tip line at 866-347-2423 or reach out by email at HSI-Shipps-Investigation@ice.dhs.gov.

Daily Staff Reporter Sammy Sussman can be reached at sbsu@michigandaily.com.


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