Former Walt Whitman rowing coach pleads guilty to sexually abusing student

A 48-year-old D.C. man who coached rowing at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland, pleaded guilty Friday to sexually abusing a high school student and possessing sexually explicit material of a 17-year-old.

Kirkland Shipley pleaded guilty in D.C. Superior Court to first-degree sexual abuse of a secondary education student and possession of a sexual performance by a minor.

According to court evidence, Shipley was the head coach for one of his victims on the girls’ crew team, and also taught her history and geography from her sophomore year to her senior year. He texted her about rowing and personal matters.

During her senior year, the Department of Justice said Shipley texted her more frequently and about increasingly personal topics. On at least two occasions in May 2018, before she graduated, he picked her up in his car and sexually abused her at his home in Northwest D.C.

Shipley’s second victim was on the girls’ crew team from her sophomore year to her senior year. He was also her history teacher during her junior year. In her senior year, Shipley messaged her more 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,” the Justice Department said.

“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 with an order to stay away from all current and former students and athletes.

Shipley will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

He’s scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 9.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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