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Former U of M music professor gets 5-year prison sentence

University of Michigan
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Former University of Michigan music professor Stephen Shipps has been sentenced to five years in prison.

Shipps pleaded guilty to taking a former violin student to another state to have sex with her. The girl was 16 years old at the time.

Prosecutors described Shipps as a revered violin instructor, who held the key for his young students to advance in the competitive world of classical music. They say Shipps took advantage of that fact to have what prosecutors describe as “coercive and damaging sexual relationships” with his teenage students.

Shipps taught in U of M’s music department until December 2018, when a Michigan Daily story exposed sexual misconduct allegations against him stretching back decades. The university put Shipps on leave, and he retired two months later.

Shipps’ lawyer admitted the truth of these allegations in a sentencing memorandum. But he also said that Shipps’ behavior was shaped by chronic alcoholism, from which the lawyer says he’s since recovered.

The defense asked for probation or another alternative to prison, while the government requested more than six years. Judge Denise Page Hood sentenced Shipps to five.

Editor's note: U of M holds Michigan Radio's license.

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Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October, 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit. Before her arrival at Michigan Radio, Sarah worked at WDET-FM as a reporter and producer.