Teen Human Trafficking Victim Stabbed Her Rapist to Death, Now She Has to Pay $150K to His Family

Teen Human Trafficking Victim Stabbed Her Rapist to Death, Now She Has to Pay $150K to His Family

A GoFundMe campaign was able to raise more than the required amount of restitution. The 17-year-old was sex trafficked after she ran away from home to escape abusive mother.

A teenage human trafficking victim was previously accused of first-degree murder for stabbing her abuser to death. However, she was sentenced on Tuesday in Iowa to five years of closely supervised probation. She also has to pay $150,000 restitution to the man's family. 

Pieper Lewis pleaded guilty last year to involuntary manslaughter and willful injury in the killing of 37-year-old Zachary Brooks, reports NBC News. Each of the charges has a maximum of 10 years in a prison sentence. However, Polk County District Judge David M. Porter deferred those prison sentences but if the 17-year-old violated any terms of her probation, she will be sent to prison for a 20-year sentence.




Porter noted that the court is left with little choice but to order her to pay the rapist's estate since it is mandated by Iowa law and has been affirmed by the Iowa Supreme Court. When Lewis stabbed Brooks more than 30 times in a Des Moines apartment, she was 15-years-old. According to officials, Lewis was a runaway who was attempting to flee an abusive relationship with her adoptive mother. She was found sleeping in the halls of an apartment complex in Des Moines when a 28-year-old man took her in and forcedly trafficked her to other men for sex. 




She stated that the 28-year-old forced her to accompany Brooks to his apartment for sex under the intimidation of a knife. She said that after Brooks had sexually assaulted her once again, in a fit of fury, she took a knife from a bedside table and stabbed Brooks. The authorities do not deny that Lewis was sexually assaulted and trafficked but they believe that Brooks wasn't a direct threat to her and was asleep when he was stabbed. 

A GoFuneMe page was created Leland Schipper, Lewis' former teacher, in order to pay the restitution ordered by the court, per The Guardian. The goal was reached within a day and the campaign has been able to raise over $300,000 for Lewis. 




Prior to being sentenced, Lewis obtained her GED while being housed in a juvenile prison facility. She said in a statement that she had trouble adjusting to the confines of her detention. She said, "My spirit has been burned, but still glows through the flames. I am a survivor." Lewis' claim that she was a victim in the case was disputed by the prosecution, who claimed that she refused to accept responsibility for Brooks' stabbing and "leaving his kids without a father."

Judge Porter said, "The next five years of your life will be full of rules you disagree with, I’m sure of it. This is the second chance that you’ve asked for. You don’t get a third." 

A measure to establish a safe harbor statute for victims of human trafficking cleared the Iowa House but stopped in the Senate due to concerns from law enforcement groups that it was too broad. Iowa is not one of the dozens of states that have enacted a so-called safe harbor law, which grants victims of human trafficking some level of criminal immunity.





Cover Image Source: KCCI/Youtube