A 17-year-old human trafficking victim who stabbed and killed her accused rapist was ordered to pay $150,000 restitution to his family. But a fundraiser has covered that amount – by more than double.
Pieper Lewis, 17, was sentenced at an Iowa court on Tuesday after pleading guilty last year to involuntary manslaughter and willful injury in the killing of Zachary Brooks, 37.
Lewis faced up to 10 years in prison for each of those charges, but Polk County District Judge David Porter deferred the sentences. Lewis was sentenced to five years of closely supervised probation, and if she violates any of the terms, she could serve a 20-year prison sentence.
Restitution is mandatory under a law that the Iowa Supreme Court has upheld.
‘This court is presented with no other option,’ Porter said of Lewis having to pay Brooks’ family.
Lewis ran away from home to escape the abuse of her adopted mother and was sleeping in the hallway of an apartment complex in Des Moines, officials said. A 28-year-old man took her in and then trafficked her for sex to other men, one of whom was Brooks, according to Lewis.
Brooks raped Lewis several times, and after one of the instances, Lewis said she took a knife from the side of the bed and stabbed him in an angry rage. She was 15 years old when she knifed Brooks more than 30 times inside an apartment in June 2020.
‘I suddenly realized that Mr Brooks had raped me yet again, and was overcome with rage,’ wrote Lewis wrote in her guilty plea.
Lewis was initially charged with first-degree murder. Prosecutors have not disputed that Lewis was trafficked and sexually assaulted, but they have claimed that Brooks was sleeping and not a danger to Lewis at the time that she stabbed him.
A GoFundMe page for Lewis started by her former math teacher, Leland Schipper, had raised more than $380,000 from 10,000 people as of Thursday afternoon.
‘Pieper does not owe that man’s family justice. Pieper does not deserve to be finically burdened for the rest of her life because the state of Iowa wrote a law that fails to give judges any discretion as to how it is applied,’ wrote Schipper.
‘This law doesn’t make sense in many cases, but in this case, it’s morally unjustifiable. A child who was raped, under no circumstances, should owe the rapist’s family money.’
The funds will be used to pay off Lewis’ $150,000 restitution, the additional $4,000 restitution to the state and help her pursue a college education and start her own business.
It will also ‘give Pieper the financial capacity to explore ways to help other young victims of sex crimes!’ Schipper wrote.
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