56 ex-students sue music and dance school for past abuse

56 ex-students sue music and dance school for past abuse


norman lebrecht

January 22, 2022

The New York Times reports that suit has been filed against the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where dance and music students claim to have been sexually and physically abused by teachers over several decades.

Among those named in the deposition is the violin teacher Stephen Shipps, who left in 1989 for the University of Michigan where he lately pleaded guilty to a sexual offence with a student. He will be sentenced next month.

Full report here.


  • Purell says:

    I had heard rumblings from around 2000 that Stephen Shipps was molesting his female students. A friend of mine who attended Meadowmount, when Shipps was on the faculty, told me Shipps was allegedly having a sexual relationship with one of the female students there who was 15 or 16.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    I’m a victim; show me the money!! Seems money is the ‘cure’. Given that fact, try not to worry so much about your victimhood; it has a ready-made ‘cure’.

    • Stop posting. says:

      What a horrid comment – one of the most horrid I’ve ever seen you post. This is about victims’ healing, and bringing individuals and institutions to justice for their crimes and failures. Hopefully this can effect change for UNCSA and in other institutions, and help victims realize that they were preyed upon and to help them come to positive realizations as they move forward in their lives.

      • Karl says:

        The problem with giving out money in these situations is that it can bring a lot of false accusations. I don’t think the accusation Shipps plead to looks false, but now anyone who wants money can make a false allegation. Check out the book “The Most Hated Man in America Jerry Sandusky and the Rush to Judgment”. There are many holes in that case. A moral panic, sensationalist media, bad psychology, corrupt police, and easy payouts to accusers could have lead to a false conviction in there.

    • Lolita says:

      God, you monster. These kids were sentenced to this awful fate before old enough to decide for themselves. Why shouldn’t they receive payout from a negligent university’s insurance after a ruined lifetime?

  • Sir David Geffen-Hall says:

    Got to love the University of Michigan.

    At least they still have Tom Brady to brag about.

    • Bill says:

      Not sure U of Mich deserves all the “glory” here. Michigan State U. is paying out some $500 million in settlement of lawsuits filed by some hundreds of student athletes abused by Larry Nassar, who was a campus doctor. That’s even more than the $490 million the U. of Michigan just agreed to pay to settle charges that a campus doctor there molested hundreds of student athletes. Maybe it is something in the water there? Oh, yeah, the settlement in the Flint, MI water fiasco is over $600 million! And then the wingnuts who were plotting to kidnap the governor…makes you wonder!

  • Bill says:

    If you read the report (or the complaint), it appears that maybe “Crotch” and “‘Groin” are more deserving of being depicted, based on the number of alleged abuses, though I suppose one could argue that as dancers they aren’t musicians…but doesn’t the same reasoning apply to conductors?

    What a cesspool that place sounded like!

  • punto says:

    I’ll preface this by saying that I have no proof, but if my conversations with a former NCSA student from the late 80s are any indication, there were predators among the students as well and the whole environment sounds rather unsavory. Much like a typical conservatory.

    • Bill says:

      In fact the complaint alleges that very thing. The underlying principle is that the school had a legal obligation to protect the students who were minors, and failed in a big way.

      The thing that is most interesting about this to me is wondering how it came to be this way. How many of the offenders were this way before they arrived? Did they just happen to achieve critical mass? Surely this doesn’t happen everywhere, so why here?

  • HackingEvil says:

    Good question. The refiled complaint is one of the most bizarre legal documents I’ve ever read. Not because I think the students were making it all up—far from it, actually, because all of this happened. The reason I find it bizarre is that the abuse was so rampant: there are so many horrifying stories. It’s like the Marquis de Sade decided to dream up a 20th century fine arts school, except it’s real. That’s bad enough. But the fact that these predators were treated like gods in their respective worlds makes it seem cult-like. And there is a mind control aspect to this. If you’re a conspiracy theorist (I am not), you might even think it were one of those MKULTRA mind control programs. The absolute cessation of dissent, manifold ways to humiliate, punish, and degrade students, and an air of doing it all for fun. Many of the perps were sick in the mind, and obviously that was part of it. But there’s something more sinister going on here, because this is anomalous enough to warrant a lawsuit of such incredible magnitude. I’m no expert on conspiracy theories, but it is strange. The behavior was so outrageous that it actually does bear scrutiny on the level of how planned out it all was. Whatever the case, there was something foul in the air at that school, and of course not a single tweedy conservative leech at any other major institution of learning ever dared to openly say anything about it. Terrible.