Former Whitman Teacher, Rowing Coach Pleads Guilty to Sexual Abuse of Minor

Kirkland Shipley, a former teacher and girls’ rowing coach at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, pled guilty Friday to sexually abusing a high school student and possessing sexually explicit material.

Shipley, 48, of Washington, D.C., pled guilty in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to first degree sexual abuse of a then-high school student.

He will be sentenced Sept. 9. As part of that sentencing, he will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, according to the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

According to the government’s evidence, one of the victims was on the girls’ crew team from 2014 to 2018. He was the victim’s head coach from her sophomore year to her senior year as well as her history and geography teacher.

During her sophomore year, Shipley began texting her about rowing and personal matters. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, those texts became more frequent “about increasingly personal topics.” On at least two occasions in May 2018, while the victim was still a senior, Shipley “picked the victim up in his car and sexually abused her at his residence in Northwest Washington.”

Another female member of the crew team from 2009 to 2013 also was a victim, according to the government. Shipley was her head coach during her sophomore through senior years and was her history teacher during her junior year.

During the spring of her senior year, Shipley messaged her on GChat about both rowing and personal matters. The month following her graduation, in July 2013 when the victim was 17 years old, Shipley invited her to his home 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,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Shipley also possessed sexually explicit photos and videos of the victim while she was still a minor. He sent the victim photos and videos of himself performing a sexual act, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

He was arrested on Aug. 24, 2021 and was ordered to stay away from all current and former students and athletes.

In a detailed letter in September 2021 to the Whitman Crew Community that was obtained by the Parents’ Coalition of Montgomery County, the Whitman Crew Boosters Board of Directors acknowledged it knew its coach may have had a sexual relationship in 2018 with a former crew member. They were also aware the relationship allegedly began following her graduation, and that the parent involved had reported it to both Montgomery County Public Schools and Child Protective Services.

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