UPDATED 9/16/22 1:30 p.m. ET: A fundraiser set up to help Pieper Lewis has far exceeded its goal.
The GoFundMe campaign originally hoped to cover Lewis’ $150,000 court-mandated bill, but it has exceeded the $200,000 goal and has reached over $485,000. The campaign was first launched in December 2021, but has gotten increased attention after Lewis was ordered to pay $150,000 to the family of her alleged rapist. Lewis, a victim of sex trafficking, has yet to share a statement in response to the overwhelming support.
See original story below.
An Iowa teenager, who was a victim of human trafficking, has been sentenced to five years of supervised probation and ordered to pay $150,000 for killing her alleged rapist, NBC News via the Associated Press reports.
Peiper Lewis was sentenced on Tuesday after she pleaded to involuntary manslaughter and willful injury in connection with the June 2020 killing of 37-year-old Zachary Brooks. The 17-year-old, who was just 15 when she stabbed Brooks to death in his Des Moines apartment, was initially charged with first-degree murder.
According to authorities, she was a runaway who was sleeping in the halls of an apartment building before she was took in by a 28-year-old man who trafficked her.
Lewis was facing up to ten years in prison on both charges, but Polk County District judge David M. Porter deferred the sentences. If she violates the conditions of her closely supervised probation she could be forced to serve 20 years. Porter noted that the court was “presented with no other option” in regards to paying the family of Brooks, as it’s mandatory under Iowa law.
“The next five years of your life will be full of rules you disagree with, I’m sure of it,” Porter said. “This is the second chance that you’ve asked for. You don’t get a third.”
In the weeks leading up to Brooks’ death, Lewis said that he raped her multiple times after she was forced at knifepoint to go to the man’s apartment. Prosecutors and authorities did not dispute that Lewis was a victim of human trafficking and sexual assault, although the former did suggest Brooks was asleep at the time he was stabbed more than 30 times by her.
“My spirit has been burned, but still glows through the flames,” said Lewis in a statement prior to her sentencing. “Hear me roar, see me glow, and watch me grow. I am a survivor.”
A GoFundMe that was set up for Pieper Lewis by her teacher Leland Schipper has since raised over $250,000.
“The funds will be used in the following ways: 1) Pay off Pieper’s 150k restitution 2) Pay off the additional 4k in restitution to the state 3) Remove financial barriers for Pieper in pursuing college/university or starting her own business. 4) Give Pieper the financial capacity to explore ways to help other young victims of sex crimes,” Schipper wrote.