Updated as of 9/16/2022 at 11:25 a.m. ET
Pieper Lewis, 17, was charged with the killing of her rapist and ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution to the man’s family, according to The Associated Press. A GoFundMe created in support of Lewis has raised nearly triple that amount, per the Des Moines Register.
Leland Schipper, Lewis’ freshman math teacher at Des Moines Lincoln High School organized the fundraiser. In under 48 hours, the fundraiser tallied $405,000 from 10,500 donations. Lewis’ attorney said it must be determined whether Iowa law will allow them to use the donations for the restitution.
Pieper Lewis was 15 when she stabbed Zachary Brooks, 37, to death in Des Moines, Iowa. Reports say she was running away to try and escape her abusive adopted mother when she took shelter in the apartment building where Brooks lived. There, he kidnapped her and sex-trafficked her to other men. Lewis also said Brooks raped her multiple times leading up to his death. Sound familiar? I’ll give you a hint: Chrystul Kizer.
Both Lewis and Kizer’s cases are similar when you look at the prosecution’s argument: the men who trafficked them were killed while they were asleep and not posing an “immediate danger.” As expected, the court focused on Lewis rather than the circumstance that led to her actions.
Read more about the case from AP News:
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.
“The next five years of your life will be full of rules you disagree with, I’m sure of it,” Porter said. He later added, “This is the second chance that you’ve asked for. You don’t get a third.”
Iowa was headed toward passing a safe harbor bill to protect trafficking victims. However, the bill passed the House but not the Senate, according to AP News. The state does have a law, though, signed in 1997 ordering people convicted of homicide to pay a fine in compensation.
Over in Wisconsin, Chrystul Kizer was allowed by the Supreme Court to use “affirmative defense for any offense committed as a direct result” of being trafficked, per Kenosha News. In other words, she can argue that killing her sex trafficker was an act of self-defense.
However, in Lewis’ case, prosecutors say she waived her ability to argue affirmative defense after pleading guilty to manslaughter and willful injury. She was sentenced Tuesday to five years of closely supervised probation with a warning that violation in any form could result in 20 years of prison time.
Lewis maintains her stance as a survivor, as she echoed in her statement to the court. “My spirit has been burned, but still glows through the flames. Hear me roar, see me glow, and watch me grow. I am a survivor,” she said.