Pieper Lewis is an Iowa teen who faced prosecution after she stabbed her rapist to death when she was 15, news outlets reported. She was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay $150,000 to the family of Zachary Brooks, according to the Des Moines Register. Now the public is banding together with a GoFundMe to help Lewis pay her fine.
Lewis was sentenced to five years’ probation and granted deferred judgement, according to the Des Moines Register, which has covered her case. Deferred judgement allows for her record to be expunged if she successfully completes probation. She pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and willful injury in the killing of Brooks, who was 37, the Register reported.
Officials said Lewis ran away from home to escape abuse, and she was sleeping in a hallway when a 28-year-old man took her in, according to the Associated Press. He then forcibly trafficked her, forcing her to have sex with other men, sometimes threatening her at knifepoint, the AP reported. Among those men was Brooks, officials said, according to the AP. Officials said that Brooks had raped her multiple times before and that she stabbed him in a fit of rage after taking a knife from the bedside table. She stabbed him more than 30 times, according to the AP.
Her GoFundMe has already exceeded the amount of restitution she owes.
Here’s what you need to know:
Judge David Porter Described Lewis’ Sentencing as ‘a Second Chance’
The judge overseeing Lewis’ case, Polk County District Judge David M. Porter, described her sentencing as “a second chance,” the Des Moines Register reported. He also ordered her to serve 1,200 in community service, which will cover $4,000 in fines, the newspaper reported. Porter sentenced Lewis Tuesday, September 13, 2022.
The Associated Press reported that Lewis had initially been charged with first-degree murder for the killing in June 2020. Involuntary manslaughter and willful injury both carry a possible sentence of up to 10 years in prison, so Lewis could still be sentenced to up to 20 years of prison time if she violates probation, the AP reported. She is now 17.
Restitution is mandated under Iowa state law, and Porter said “this court is presented with no other option” than ordering Lewis to pay Brooks’ estate.
Lewis’ High School Math Teacher Started the GoFundMe to Support Her
The GoFundMe to support Lewis was started by her freshman math teacher, Leland Schipper. It raised more than $180,000 by noon Eastern time on Wednesday, September 14.
Schipper told the Des Moines Register he was overwhelmed by the support for Lewis, and that he hopes the story raises awareness of the law that mandated the judge order the teen pay restitution.
“Pieper’s case is so obvious to people why this law is flawed, but she’s not unique in this law being problematically applied,” Schipper told the Register. “It’s beautiful and it’s amazing.”
Schipper wrote on the GoFundMe page that the voice of his former student was powerful.
“Today, my former student, Pieper Lewis bravely took the microphone during her sentencing hearing and told the courtroom that her voice mattered,” he wrote. “I was incredibly proud of her. She was powerful, and she brought me to tears.”