High School Rowing Coach Pleads Guilty To Sexually Abusing a High School Student

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

            WASHINGTON – Kirkland Shipley, 48, a former teacher and girls’ rowing coach at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to sexually abusing a high school student and possessing sexually explicit material of a 17-year-old former high school student, announced U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves and Robert J. Contee III, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

            Shipley, of Washington, D.C., pleaded guilty in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to first-degree sexual abuse of a secondary education student and possession of a sexual performance by a minor. Sentencing is scheduled for September 9, 2022 before the Honorable Maribeth Raffinan. As part of his sentence, Shipley will be required to register for the rest of his life as a sex offender.

            According to the government’s evidence, one of the victims was on the girls’ crew team at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland from 2014-2018. Shipley was her head coach from her sophomore year to her senior year, as well as her history and geography teacher. During her sophomore year of high school, Shipley began texting the victim about rowing and personal matters. This continued into her senior year, in which Shipley began to text the victim more frequently and about increasingly personal topics. On at least two occasions in May 2018, prior to this victim’s graduation, he picked the victim up in his car and sexually abused her at his residence in Northwest Washington.

            The other victim was on the girls’ crew team at Walt Whitman High School from 2009—2013. Shipley was her head coach from her sophomore year to her senior year. He also was this victim’s history teacher during her junior year. During the spring of the victim’s senior year, Shipley began to message her on GChat more frequently, about rowing and personal matters. A month after her graduation, in July 2013, when the victim was 17 years old, Shipley invited her to his residence in Washington, D.C., and had sex with her. He continued having sex with this victim throughout the summer and after she began college in the fall of 2013. During this time, Shipley possessed sexually explicit photos and videos of the victim, while she was a 17-year-old minor. He also sent this victim photos and videos of his penis and of himself masturbating.


            Shipley was arrested on Aug. 24, 2021. He was released from custody with an order to stay away from all current and former students and athletes.  

            In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Graves and Chief Contee commended the work of the Metropolitan Police Department, which investigated the case. They also acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Victim/Witness Advocate Lezlie Richardson and Paralegal Specialist ReShawn Johnson.

            Finally, they expressed appreciation for the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Caroline Burrell and Felice Roggen, who investigated and prosecuted the case.