A judge sentenced a 17-year-old sex trafficking victim who stabbed her rapist to death on Tuesday to five years of closely supervised probation. She must pay $150,000 restitution to her abuser’s family.
Pieper Lewis stabbed her abuser, 37-year-old Zachary Brooks, over 30 times in June 2020.
Lewis was initially charged with first-degree murder.
“Last year, Lewis pleaded to involuntary manslaughter and willful injury, both of which were punishable by up to 10 years in prison. However, Polk County District Judge David Porter deferred those prison sentences on Tuesday, meaning Lewis could serve 20 years if she violates her probation,”
Fox News reported:
A teenage human trafficking victim who was initially charged with first-degree murder after she stabbed her accused rapist to death has been sentenced to five years' probation and ordered to pay $150,000 restitution to the man's family. https://t.co/ZF8G8MuFSh
— The Associated Press (@AP) September 14, 2022
From Fox News:
Porter said he ordered Lewis to pay restitution to Brooks’ family because the court was “presented with no other option.” He explained that the restitution is mandatory under Iowa law.
Lewis, who was 15 when she stabbed Brooks in a Des Moines apartment, had run away from home to escape her abusive adoptive mother. She was sleeping in the halls of an apartment building when Christopher Brown, 28, took her in and began trafficking her to other men for sex, according to officials.
Among those men was Brooks, who Lewis said raped her multiple times before she killed him. She recalled being forced at knife point to go to his apartment for sex. After Brooks raped her for what would end up being the last time, Lewis grabbed a knife off a bedside table and stabbed him.
Neither police nor prosecutors dispute whether Lewis was trafficked and assaulted, but prosecutors allege that Brooks was not an immediate threat because he was asleep when he was stabbed.
AP News added:
Iowa is not among the dozens of states that have a so-called safe harbor law that gives trafficking victims at least some level of criminal immunity.
Lewis, who earned her GED while being held in juvenile detention, acknowledged in a statement prior to her sentencing that she struggled with the structure of her detention, including “why I was treated like fragile glass” or wasn’t allowed to communicate with her friends or family.
“My spirit has been burned, but still glows through the flames,” she read from a statement she had prepared. “Hear me roar, see me glow, and watch me grow.”
“I am a survivor,” she added.
The Associated Press does not typically name victims of sexual assault, but Lewis agreed to have her name used previously in stories about her case.
Prosecutors took issue with Lewis calling herself a victim in the case and said she failed to take responsibility for stabbing Brooks and “leaving his kids without a father.”
The judge peppered Lewis with repeated requests to explain what poor choices she made that led up to Brooks’ stabbing and expressed concern that she sometimes did not want to follow rules set for her in juvenile lockup.