Detroit: A former University of Michigan violin professor has been sentenced to five years in prison. The professor was convicted after pleading guilty to transporting a girl across states lines for sex. A federal judge who sentenced Stephen Shipps, 69, Thursday also ordered the Ann Arbor man to pay USD 1,20,000 in restitution to his victim, federal prosecutors said. Shipps offered an apology and his lawyer had asked for no prison time.
Shipps pleaded guilty in November to one count of transporting a girl across state lines with the intent to engage in sexual conduct. The charges allege Shipps took the girl across state lines several times between February and July of 2002 with the intention of having sex with her. The girl was born in 1985, according to court documents.
Shipps’ indictment in October 2020 and arrest in Ann Arbor came two years after the university placed the longtime professor on paid leave. It happened former students accused Stephen Shipps of sexual misconduct while he taught them in the 1970s and 1980s in Nebraska and North Carolina.
James C Harris, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Detroit, said he hopes Shipps’ sentence ‘sends a powerful message to others in positions of trust that if you prey on the vulnerable you will be held accountable for your actions’.
The University of Michigan has faced intense scrutiny over how it protects people on the campus from sexual misconduct.
The school was rocked by allegations that began to publicly surface in 2020 from hundreds of men. They said they were sexually assaulted by the late Robert Anderson, who was a campus doctor for nearly 40 years. He died in 2008. In January, the school announced a USD 490 million settlement with Anderson’s accusers.
Shipps taught at the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance from 1989 until his retirement in 2019. He also directed a preparatory programme that offered musical instruction to children.
Shipps 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, federal authorities said.