Raped and Trafficked Teen Must Pay $150K in Restitution After Killing Her Abuser

A judge in Iowa condemned an underage sex trafficking victim who killed her rapist with a knife to five years of closely monitored probation. The judge also ordered her to pay $150,000 in compensation to the victim’s family.

Piper Lewis Stabbed Her Trafficker

In June 2020, Pieper Lewis, then 17 years old, stabbed her captor, Zachary Brooks, then 37, more than 30 times. Her initial accusation was of first-degree murder.

Lewis admitted to involuntary manslaughter and willful injury last year; both offenses carried a maximum 10-year jail sentence.

On Tuesday, Polk County District Judge David Porter postponed those prison terms; so, Lewis could now face up to 20 years in prison if she disobeys her probation.

Porter claimed the court was “provided with no alternative option” and this is why he ordered Lewis to make amends to Brooks’ family. He clarified Iowa law requires the restitution to be made.

Lewis, who was 15 years old when she fatally knifed Brooks in a Des Moines apartment, fled her house to avoid being raised by her controlling adoptive mother.

She was found sleeping in the hallways of an apartment complex when Christopher Brown, 28, allegedly took her in and started selling her to other men for sex.

One of those individuals was Brooks, who Lewis claimed repeatedly sexually assaulted her, prior to her killing him. She remembered being coerced into going to his place for sex at the point of a knife.

Lewis took a knife off a night table and stabbed Brooks after what would turn out to be the final time he raped her.

Lewis Was Trafficked and Raped

Police and prosecutors agree Lewis was traded and attacked, but prosecutors contend Brooks did not pose a threat at the time of the stabbing because he was asleep.

One of the many states having a safe harbor provision, which grants victims of human trafficking some degree of criminal immunity, is not Iowa.

Porter said Lewis would be taken to a group home in Des Moines and wear a GPS tracking device to make sure she didn’t revert to “the lifestyle you thus far left.”

Additionally, she will be required to perform 200 hours of community service.

She read a prepared speech before being sentenced, saying, “My spirit has been scorched, yet still glows through the flames. Watch me grow, hear me shout, and see me sparkle.”

“I’ve survived,” she declared.


 

In Iowa, there is a provision known as the affirmative defense that gives victims of crimes some protection if they committed the offense.

However, this offense has to be committed “under duress from the prospect of significant injury from another, provided the defendant reasonably thought such injury was impending.”

Prosecutors countered when Lewis pleaded guilty to manslaughter and malicious injury, she forfeited that affirmative defense.

Lewis completed her GED when she was incarcerated for youthful offenses and unable to contact her friends and family.

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