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Iowa teen Pieper Lewis ordered to pay $150K to family of accused rapist she killed

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Iowa teen Pieper Lewis ordered to pay $150K to family of accused rapist she killed


A teenage sex-trafficking victim who stabbed her accused rapist to death was ordered to pay $150,000 restitution to the man’s family and sentenced to five years of closely-supervised probation by a judge in Iowa on Tuesday.

Pieper Lewis was a 15-year-old runaway when she stabbed her 37-year-old abuser, Zachary Brooks, more than 30 times in a Des Moines apartment in June 2020.

Lewis, now 17, was originally charged with first-degree murder for the fatally stabbing. Last year, she pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and willful injury. Each charge is punishable to up to 10 years in prison.

Pieper Lewis pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 2020 killing of her rapist Zachary Brooks.
Pieper Lewis pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 2020 killing of her rapist Zachary Brooks.
AP

Polk County District Judge David M. Porter deferred Lewis’ prison sentence on Tuesday— meaning if she violates her probation she could be sent to prison to serve 20 years.

The judge said Lewis was ordered to pay the estate of her rapist because the court was “presented with no other option,” adding that the restitution is mandatory under Iowa state law. 

She will be moved to a halfway house in Des Moines where she will wear a GPS tracking device to ensure she does not fall “back into the lifestyle that you thus far left,” Porter said, according to the New York Times. She will additionally be required to complete 200 hours of community service.

Lewis was sentenced to five years probation, 200 hours of community service and ordered to pay $150,000 to he rapists' estate.
Lewis was sentenced to five years probation, 200 hours of community service and ordered to pay $150,000 to the rapists’ estate.
AP

She had run away from an abusive stepmother and was sleeping in the hallways of an apartment building when Christopher Brown, 28, took her in and began pimping her out to other men for sex, officials said. One of the men was Brooks, who raped her multiple times in the weeks before his death, Lewis said.

The teenager recalled being forced by the 28-year-old at knifepoint to go to Brooks’ apartment to have sex with him. After Brooks raped her again, she said she grabbed a knife from a bedside table and stabbed him.

Neither police nor prosecutors have doubted that Lewis was sexually assaulted, but prosecutors claimed she stabbed Brooks while he was asleep and was not a threat to Lewis at the time.

Lewis has spent the last two years locked up in a juvenile detention center, where she earned her GED while she was unable to communicate with her friends and family.

“My spirit has been burned, but still glows through the flames,” she read from a prepared statement before her sentencing “Hear me roar, see me glow, and watch me grow.”

“I am a survivor,” she added.

Prosecutors disagreed with Lewis referring to herself as a victim during the case. They said she failed to take responsibility for the killing and leaving Brooks’ children without a father.

Pieper Lewis, 17, was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay $150k in restitution on Tuesday.
Lewis, 17, was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay $150k in restitution on Tuesday.
AP

The judge questioned Lewis over the choices she had made that led to Brooks’ stabbing.

“I took a person’s life,” she responded, according to The Times. “My intentions that day were not to 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.”

She said she regretted what happened that day, “but to say there is one victim is absurd.”

Iowa is not one of the dozens of US states that have safe-harbor laws that give trafficking victims some degree of criminal immunity.

Lewis addressed the courtroom before her sentencing from Polk County District Judge David M. Porter on Tuesday.
Lewis addressed the courtroom before her sentencing from Polk County District Judge David M. Porter on Tuesday.
AP

The Hawkeye State does have an affirmative defense law that presents some leeway to victims if the victim committed the crime “under compulsion by another’s threat of serious injury, provided that the defendant reasonably believed that such injury was imminent.”

Prosecutors argued Tuesday that Lewis waived that affirmative defense when she pleaded guilty to manslaughter and willful injury.

With Post Wires