An Iowa teenager has been ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution to the family of a man she killed after he allegedly sexually abused her.
Pieper Lewis, 17, pleaded guilty in June 2021 to voluntary manslaughter and willful injury in connection with the 2020 death of Zachary Brooks, 37. Brooks was stabbed 30 times on June 1, 2020.
Lewis has never denied stabbing Brooks, but has said he raped her on multiple occasions, according to The New York Times.
Judge David Porter of the Polk County District Court sentenced Lewis on Tuesday to five years of probation without early release and ordered that she be placed at the Fresh Start Women’s Center in Des Moines.
She has to wear a GPS tracking device at the residential facility, Porter said, due to his concerns that she go “back into the lifestyle that you thus far left.”
Pieper Lewis was 15 years old when, according to court documents, the man sheltering her forced her to have sex for money. She stabbed one abuser 30 times, killing him. On Tuesday, she was sentenced and ordered to pay his family $150,000. https://t.co/KcMnzuCqCf
— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 13, 2022
He said the restitution payment is required by Iowa law and was tacked on to her sentence because “this court is presented with no other option,” according to the Associated Press.
“The next five years of your life will be full of rules you disagree with, I’m sure of it,” Porter said, later adding, “This is the second chance that you’ve asked for. You don’t get a third.”
The restitution payment spurred objections.
“No one has ever denied that she was a victim, and yet the way that she’s being treated is not the way that we would expect a victim of trafficking, let alone a minor victim of trafficking, to be treated,” KellyMarie Meek, coordinator of prevention and public health initiatives at the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said, according to The Washington Post.
“She stabbed this man multiple times, and the reason she did that was because she was put in a human trafficking situation,” Matthew Sheeley, an assistant state public defender who was assisting in Lewis’s defense, said at Tuesday’s sentencing hearing, the Times reported.
“I don’t believe that the Iowa Legislature intended to require a 15-year-old girl … to pay her rapist’s estate $150,000,” he said during the hearing, according to the Post.
She said that in the month before the stabbing, she was left at the apartment where the stabbing would later take place by her boyfriend, who told her that Brooks “would want to have sex with me since he was allowing me to stay with him,” the Times reported.
Pieper Lewis is 17
She was 15, raped many times & sex trafficked by Zachary Brooks, 37
After a rape, she grabbed a knife from a bedside table, and stabbed him
Prosecutors NEVER disputed her abuse & trafficking
Charged with 1st degree murder
— An Open Secret (@AnOpenSecret) September 7, 2022
In the statement, she said she did not want to have sex with Brooks and that “I did not want to go to Mr. Brooks’s apartment but I had no other place to go.”
On the night of the stabbing, she said, Brooks had raped her. After she awoke from having ingested alcohol and used drugs and saw Brooks passed out nearby, “[w]ithout thinking, I immediately grabbed the knife from his night stand and began stabbing him.”
In court Tuesday, Lewis said, “I took a person’s life. 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.”
On Tuesday, the Times reported, Lewis read from a statement that said, “No matter what the judge’s decision is today, I will still prevail.
“Nothing can stop a positive path of progress but negativity and doubt. During my journey, I have found part of the spiritual world and its beauty. I have progressed with the ability to lead with the power of many while maintaining self-worth. I am a survivor.”
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