A teenage human trafficking victim was sentenced on Tuesday to five years of closely supervised probation and ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution to the family of the man who raped her multiple times.
Pieper Lewis, 17, was initially charged with first-degree murder for killing Zachary Brooks, 37, in Des Moines, Iowa, in June 2020. She pleaded guilty the following year to involuntary manslaughter and willful injury, with each charge carrying a ten-year sentence, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
Her prison sentences were deferred by Polk County District Judge David M. Porter, but with the stipulation that if she violates her probation, she may have to serve 20 years in jail.
In addition to her probation sentences and fine, the judge ordered Lewis to carry out 200 hours of community service each year for the next three years and be placed at a women’s center in De Moines, where she will be required to wear a GPS tracking device, the New York Times noted.
Before her arrest, Lewis, then 15 years old, ran away from her home to escape her abusive mother, according to officials via the AP.
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/PhxQ7adnI4
— The Associated Press (@AP) September 14, 2022
At some point, she ended up sleeping in the hallways of an apartment building in Des Moines when she was abducted and trafficked by an unidentified 28-year-old man to be forced to have sex with other men — one of those men being Brooks, who raped her multiple times.
Lewis was held at knifepoint by the 28-year-old man and forced to have sex with Brooks, where she said she was raped again.
Following the sexual assault, Lewis grabbed a knife next to the bed and stabbed Brooks over 30 times out of anger.
While police and prosecutors do not dispute that Lewis was trafficked and sexually assaulted, they claim Brooks was sleeping at the time of the attack and did not present an immediate danger to the teen.
Lewis was arrested the following day and placed in a juvenile detention facility for the next two years, where she obtained her High School GED. She claimed that she had minimal contact with her family while detained.
Before she was sentenced, Lewis told the court that she is a different person since her arrest.
“My story can change things. My story has changed me,” Lewis said, per the Des Moines Register. “The events that took place on that horrific day cannot be changed, as much as I wish I could. That day a combination of complicated actions took place resulting in the death of a person, as well as a stolen innocence of a child.”
“No matter what the judge’s decision is today, I will still prevail,” she added, per the Times.
Lewis also called herself a “survivor,” but prosecutors objected to that claim, saying she failed to take responsibility for stabbing Brooks.
You can follow Ethan Letkeman on Twitter at @EthanLetkeman.