Prosecutors extend plea offer to former teacher Kirkland Shipley 


Anna Yuan

The assessment will account for 20% of a student’s second-semester grade in Biology, Honors Biology, Government and Politics and Honors Government and Politics classes.

By Ethan Schenker

This story was updated at 8:37 p.m. on March 18 to add comment from attorney Matthew Ornstein.

Prosecutors extended a pre-indictment plea offer to former Whitman social studies teacher Kirkland Shipley on March 14, according to court documents. 

When Shipley was arrested in August, police charged the former Whitman crew coach with five counts of sexual abuse of a secondary education student, including three first-degree offenses and two second-degree offenses. The plea offer states that if Shipley pleads guilty to one count of first degree sexual abuse of a secondary education student and one count of possesion of sexual performance by a minor, the government will not indict him on any remaining charges or greater future charges relating to the case. If Shipley accepts the plea offer, he faces a maximum sentence of either 10 years imprisonment or a $25,000 fine for each of the two charges. 

Prosecutors also wrote that in exchange for the two guilty pleas, the government would waive any potential sentencing enhancements — or harsher sentences due to specific circumstances of the crime — related to the charges, but would still mandate Shipley’s lifetime registration as a sex offender.

At a court hearing on the day of his arrest, Shipley pleaded not guilty to each of the five charges he faced. The five charges carry a collective maximum term of 40 years in prison, a fine of up to $85,000 or a combination of the two penalties, according to sentencing guidelines.

Charging documents allege a pattern of grooming and other sexual misconduct that persisted during his tenure as coach. MCPS placed Shipley on paid administrative leave on August 24 and terminated him on December 2, Communications Director Chris Cram wrote in an email to The Black & White. 

The plea offer includes a provision that would prohibit Shipley from opposing the filing and presentation in court of an impact statement — a document describing the effect of a particular crime on a group or person. If he accepts the deal’s terms, the government will still reserve the right to take him into custody pending sentencing, according to documents filed in court.

“The United States Attorney’s Office has been exemplary in terms of their accessibility and communication with us and they have made a concerted effort to incorporate our views when fashioning their plea offer,” wrote Matthew Ornstein, an attorney from the Network for Victim Recovery of DC who represents two of the victims, in an email to The Black & White.

While the government’s plea offer is set to expire on April 17, prosecutors can revoke it at any point before its expiration, and retain the right to indict the former teacher on additional charges in a grand jury until all parties officially agree to the deal. Any subsequent plea offers will be “less favorable” to Shipley, the lawyers wrote. 

Attorneys from both sides are scheduled to appear in court for a pre-trial conference before a D.C. Superior Court judge on March 31 at 9:30 a.m, according to the public docket. 

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia declined to comment on the plea offer. 

Shipley’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication. 


This is a developing story.