A fundraiser was launched in help of a teenage human trafficking sufferer who was ordered to pay $150,000 to the household of her accused rapist for fatally stabbing him two years in the past. It has now raised greater than double what she owed.
Pieper Lewis, 17, who was initially charged with first-degree homicide, was sentenced Tuesday in an Iowa courtroom to 5 years of intently supervised probation and ordered to pay $150,000 restitution to the household of Zachary Brooks, 37, who she fatally stabbed in June 2020.
Officers beforehand mentioned Lewis was a runaway who had sought to flee an abusive life along with her adopted mom and located herself sleeping within the hallways of a Des Moines condominium constructing when a 28-year-old man took her in, however later forcibly trafficked her to different males for intercourse.
She was 15 years previous when she stabbed Brooks greater than 30 instances in a Des Moines condominium after allegedly being repeatedly raped by him within the weeks main as much as the incident.
Police and prosecutors haven’t disputed that Lewis was sexually assaulted and trafficked. However prosecutors have argued that Brooks was asleep on the time he was stabbed and never an instantaneous hazard to Lewis.
In his sentencing, Polk County District decide David M. Porter mentioned Lewis had been given the “second probability” she had requested for by avoiding jail time. However, he mentioned she would nonetheless should pay her accused rapist’s household, noting that the $150,000 restitution was obligatory beneath Iowa legislation that has been upheld by the Iowa Supreme Courtroom.
“This courtroom is offered with no different possibility,” Porter mentioned of the mandated restitution.
Greater than $323,000 raised in lower than 48 hours
In lower than 48 hours, Iowa residents trying to help the teenager managed to lift greater than double what she owed to her alleged rapist’s household, with greater than $323,200 raised by over 8,000 donations by early Thursday morning. The highest donation was for $5,000 from an nameless donor.
The fundraiser was launched on GoFundMe by Leland Schipper, who mentioned they had been Lewis’ former trainer. NBC Information couldn’t instantly verify the connection, however contacted Schipper for remark.
“At present, my former scholar, Pieper Lewis bravely took the microphone throughout her sentencing listening to and instructed the courtroom that her voice mattered. I used to be extremely pleased with her,” Schipper mentioned in a put up on the fundraising web page, referencing statements Lewis made forward of her sentencing Tuesday.
“My spirit has been burned, however nonetheless glows by the flames,” Lewis, who earned her GED whereas being held in juvenile detention, mentioned within the ready assertion.
“Hear me roar, see me glow, and watch me develop,” she mentioned, including: “I’m a survivor.”
In selecting to condemn Lewis to supervised probation, quite than jail time, Schipper mentioned Porter appeared to have “acknowledged that Pieper was a sufferer and a toddler.”
“Pieper will keep away from jail, and he or she may have entry to among the providers she must proceed therapeutic,” Schipper wrote.
Nonetheless, the trainer mentioned Lewis didn’t owe her accused rapist’s household “justice” and shouldn’t be financially burdened for the remainder of her life due to what occurred.
Many appeared to share that sentiment, with the fundraiser flooded with messages of help.
“You’re a Phoenix rising from the ashes,” one contributor wrote. “Your phrases are so transferring and poetic. I’m so sorry your life up to now has been so traumatic at such a younger age.”
“As a father of a daughter, I embrace Pieper as my very own and solely need her protected and therapeutic. You might be all of Iowa’s daughter,” one other wrote. “Bear in mind, the world could be a stunning place; although full of monsters. YOU.ARE.A.SURVIVOR.”
One particular person mentioned they had been donating from France, writing: “Hopefully, this can contribute to assist Pieper get again on her toes and eventually get the blissful life she deserves.”
Schipper mentioned further funds raised can be used to assist take away monetary obstacles for Lewis in pursuing a university or college diploma or beginning her personal enterprise, in addition to giving her the “monetary capability to discover methods to assist different younger victims of intercourse crimes.”