Former University of Michigan violin professor charged with transporting minor girl across state lines

ANN ARBOR, MI — A former University of Michigan professor could be facing up to 15 years in prison after being charged with two counts of transporting a minor girl across state lines with the intent to engage in sexual conduct.



a man wearing a suit and tie: UM Professor Stephen Shipps and Maureen O'Boyle


© UM staff photo and O’Boyle courtesy photo/mlive.com/TNS
UM Professor Stephen Shipps and Maureen O’Boyle

Stephen Shipps, 67, was arrested Thursday morning in Ann Arbor, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider. Shipps was employed by the UM School of Music, Theatre and Dance as a violin professor. He retired in February 2019, the release said.

The indictment by Schneider’s office alleges that in February, March, June and July of 2002, Shipps transported a girl under the age of 18 across state lines and intended to engage in sexual activity with her.

If convicted of both counts, Shipps faces a statutory maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison, the release said.

“We are committed to the safety and well-being of the most vulnerable members of our society – our children,” Schneider said. “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.”

Shipps was placed on paid leave by UM in 2018 after allegations of sexual misconduct against him were brought forward by former students he taught in the 1970s and 1980s in Nebraska and North Carolina.

UM violin professor accused of sexual misconduct

MLive does not usually name victims in sexual assault or misconduct cases, but Maureen O’Boyle gave permission when she was interviewed for a story in December 2018.

O’Boyle said she was invited to a party in Shipps’ basement in 1978. After smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol, “Steve had sex with me on that couch, where I always unpacked my violin for a lesson,” O’Boyle wrote in a written account of her affair with Shipps.

After that, O’Boyle said she visited the Shipps’ home regularly to babysit, take lessons or have sex.

“I didn’t know if he was going to give me a violin lesson or initiate sex,” O’Boyle told MLive. “It was just sort of a disaster … I felt terrible about the whole thing. He was married at the time.”

The case is being investigated by agents of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with the assistance of the UM Police Department. Anyone with additional information about alleged crimes committed by Shipps is asked to call a tip line set up by the Department of Homeland Security at 866-347-2423.

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