Judge Orders Iowa Teen to Pay $150,000 to Family of Alleged Rapist She Killed

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An Iowa judge ruled on Tuesday that a teenage human trafficking victim must serve five years of closely supervised probation and pay $150,000 in restitution to the family of her accused rapist, whom she stabbed to death.

Pieper Lewis was a 15-year-old runaway seeking to escape an abusive life with her stepmother when she killed her accused rapist, 37-year-old Zachary Brooks, in June 2020, by stabbing him more than 30 times in a Des Moines apartment.

Lewis, now 17, has maintained that she was trafficked against her will to Brooks for sex multiple times and stabbed him in a fit of rage.

Police and prosecutors have not disputed that Lewis was sexually abused and trafficked. But officials argued that Brooks was asleep at the time he was stabbed, and did not present an immediate danger to her.

Last year, she pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and willful injury in the 37-year-old’s killing. Each charge was punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

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

Porter also said Iowa law compelled him to order the $150,000 payment to the estate of Lewis’ accused rapist because the “court is presented with no other option,” noting the restitution is mandatory under the law that has been upheld by the state’s supreme court.

According to the law (pdf), the court is required to order offenders to pay at least $150,000 in restitution if they kill another person—which has struck some observers in this particular case as unnecessarily harsh.

Donations are pouring into a GoFundMe campaign set up for Lewis, which has already raised more than $350,000, more than enough money to pay the $150,000 restitution the Iowa court ruled on Tuesday.

By Lorenz Duchamps

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