A 17-year-old who made headlines worldwide when she went on trial for first degree murder for stabbing her accused rapist to death has been sentenced and ordered to pay restitution.
That restitution has been covered by donors, thanks to a fundraising effort by a former teacher.
Polk County District judge David M. Porter sentenced Pieper Lewis to five years of closely supervised probation and ordered her to pay $150,000 restitution to Brooks’ family. “This court is presented with no other option,” Porter said, saying the restitution is mandatory under Iowa law and has been upheld by the Iowa Supreme Court. If she violates any portion of her probation, she could be sent to prison.
A GoFundMe account has been started by Leland Schipper, one of Lewis’ former teachers, to raise the restitution funds, and can be found here. Funds raised will go to paying the restitution and fees, helping Lewis attend college and assisting other victims of sex crimes.
Lewis pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and willful injury last year in the June 2020 death of 37-year-old Zachary Brooks of Des Moines. Lewis faced 10 years in prison for each charge. She was 15 years old at the time of the incident and officials say she was a runaway at the time, seeking to escape an abusive home life with her adoptive mother. She was sleeping in the hallway of a Des Moines apartment building when a 28-year-old man took her in before forcibly trafficking her to other men for sex. Lewis said one of those men was Brooks, who raped her multiple times in the weeks before his death. She remembered being forced at knifepoint by the 28-year-old man to go with Brooks to his apartment for sex. She told officers after Brooks had raped her again, she took a knife from a bedside table and stabbed him in a fit of rage. Police and prosecutors have not disputed that Lewis was sexually assaulted and trafficked, but prosecutors have argued that Brooks was asleep at the time he was stabbed and not an immediate danger to Lewis.
Iowa is not one of the dozens of states that have a so-called safe harbor law that gives trafficking victims some level of criminal immunity. A bill creating a safe harbor law for trafficking victims passed the Iowa House earlier this year but stalled in the Senate due to concerns from law enforcement groups that it was too broad.