An Iowa judge ordered a Black teenage rape and sex trafficking victim to pay the rapist’s family $150,000 in restitution and gave her five years of strictly supervised probation on Tuesday for stabbing him to death, the Des Moines Register reported.
Pieper Lewis, now 17, was 15 years old when the stabbing occurred. She pleaded guilty last year to voluntary manslaughter and willful injury for fatally stabbing her accused rapist, 37-year-old Zachary Brooks, in June 2020.
According to Lewis, she had run away from her abusive adoptive mother. The teen began living with a 28-year-old unnamed musician she referred to as her “boyfriend,” who sex trafficked her by forcing her to engage in sexual activity with older men for monetary gain—. She said he even created a dating profile for her to use. On May 31, 2020, the musician forced her to go to Brooks’ apartment by putting a knife to her neck.
Brooks and other people forced her to drink and smoke at his apartment. Lewis said that she had hoped the alcohol and drugs would make Brooks fall asleep. However, she fell asleep first and woke up to Brooks raping her. Despite her attempts, Lewis couldn’t get him off of her.
Afterward, Brooks fell asleep, and Lewis wrote in her plea that she realized he had raped her multiple times. “[I] was overcome with rage.”
Lewis seized a knife from a bedstand and stabbed Brooks 30 times. A maintenance man found him, and Lewis was arrested at the musician’s apartment.
Lewis initially faced 20 years in prison because prosecutors argued that the 17-year-old was uncooperative and disobeyed many rules during her two years in juvenile detention.
Polk County District Judge David M. Porter agreed to Assistant Polk County Attorney Meggan Guns, who introduced the five-year probation, resulting in Porter adjourning prison time.
As for the restitution, the Iowa Legislature enforced the offender to pay the victim’s family at least $150,000, a decision a judge can’t overturn. The state attempted to pass a safe harbor bill that granted sex trafficking victims some criminal immunity; the House passed the bill while it stalled in the Senate.
“The court is cognizant that you and…your supporters will be frustrated with the imposition of the $150,00 in restitution to Mr. Brooks’ estate,” Porter told Lewis in the courtroom. “This court is presented with no other option, other than which is dictated by the law of this case.”
In addition to the restitution and probation, Lewis was ordered to do 1,200 hours of community service and live at the Fresh Start Women’s Center in Des Moines. While accommodating there, Lewis must have a job, pay rent, and participate in treatment programs that touch on topics the residents resonate with.
Brooks had three children with two women, so it’s unclear where the restitution will go toward.
Lewis read her statement during the sentencing, “My spirit has been burned, but still glows through the flames. Hear me roar, see me glow, and watch me grow.”
She added, “I am a survivor.”
Porter asked the Iowa teen if she made mistakes, referring to the incident, and Lewis responded with, “I took a person’s life. My intentions that day were not just to go out and take somebody’s life. In my mind, I felt that I wasn’t safe, and I felt that I was in danger, which resulted in the acts. But it doesn’t take away from the fact that a crime was committed.”
A GoFundMe was created by Lewis’ former teacher, Leland Schipper, to help pay for the restitution and other expenses.