GoFundMe raises $358,000 for teen ordered to pay $150,000 for killing alleged rapist

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By Phoebe Egoroff

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The former teacher of an Iowa teen - who was fined $150,000 for killing her alleged rapist - has managed to raise more than $358,000 for the teen's legal fees.

Pieper Lewis, 17, was initially charged with first-degree murder after she stabbed her alleged rapist to death. As previously reported, a 28-year-old man is believed to have found a then-15-year-old Lewis in a hallway after escaping an abusive home in 2020, eventually trafficking her to multiple men for sex.

One of the men who raped Lewis was identified as 37-year-old Zachary Brooks, who had assaulted her on numerous occasions leading up to his death. It was after one of these assaults at a Des Moines, Iowa, apartment that Lewis grabbed a knife from her bedside table and stabbed Brooks 30 times while he was sleeping in June 2020.

Speaking in defence of her crime, Lewis stated in court: "I took a person's life. My intentions that day were not to just go out and take somebody's life. In my mind, I felt that I wasn't safe and I felt that I was in danger, which resulted in the acts. But it doesn't take away from the fact that a crime was committed."

According to Iowa law, Brooks did not pose an immediate threat to her, as he was fast asleep at the time of his death.

As a result, Lewis pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and wilful injury - rather than first-degree murder - and was sentenced on those charges this week.

Both are punishable by up to 10 years in prison, however, then teen ended up being sentenced to five years' probation instead, per her GoFundMe page.

Pursuant to a 1997 law, those convicted of homicide must pay $150,000 in restitution to the victim's family - meaning that Lewis essentially owes her alleged rapist's family this amount, the BBC reported.

District Judge, David M Porter, frankly stated upon Lewis' sentencing: "The next five years of your life will be full of rules you disagree with, I'm sure of it. This is the second chance that you've asked for. You don't get a third."

In a prepared statement to the court, Lewis told the jury: "My spirit has been burned, but still glows through the flames. Hear me roar, see me glow, and watch me grow."

She finally added: "I am a survivor."

A GoFundMe page has since been set up by Lewis' former teacher, Leland Schipper, in an effort to raise funds for Lewis to pay her alleged rapist's family the $150,000, as well as an additional $4,000 in restitution she now owes to the state of Iowa.

In the page's description, Schipper has written a lengthy comment: "Today, my former student, Pieper Lewis bravely took the microphone during her sentencing hearing and told the courtroom that her voice mattered. I was incredibly proud of her."

"[The judge] decided that 834 days she spent in juvenile detention awaiting her sentencing was enough 'punishment' for a then fifteen-year-old girl who had been kicked out of her home and found herself sleeping in the stairwell of one of the most dangerous apartment complexes in Des Moines; a girl that was ultimately preyed upon by men twice her age who traded her body for drugs. These men physically [assaulted], raped, and sex trafficked Pieper on multiple occasions," Schipper detailed in the description.

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Credit: GoFundMe.com

The former teacher continued: "The funds will be used in the following ways: 1) Pay off Pieper's 150k restitution 2) Pay off the additional 4k in restitution to the state 3) Remove financial barriers for Pieper in pursuing college/university or starting her own business 4) Give Pieper the financial capacity to explore ways to help other young victims of sex crimes! Thank you! You are all amazing."

The page has additionally received hundreds of comments in support of the young teen - with one father writing: "I wish I had more to give you. You did the right thing. You are a wonderful, beautiful and strong woman. As a father who has five daughters, I want to say thank you. I am so proud of you Little Sister, you are my hero. I will pray that you have an awesome life. And that you heal from your wounds. Assalamu Alaikum (May God's Peace, Blessings, and Mercy be upon you) Amen [sic]!"

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Credit: GoFundMe.com

"I hope you can use these donations to do whatever you want with your life. Your life should've always been in your control. I'm sorry that was taken from you," someone else added.

wp-image-1263169276 size-full
Credit: GoFundMe.com

So far, over 9,000 people have made donations to the page, with some of the top donations being as high as $5,000. The current amount is sitting at a whopping $358,000.

Featured image credit: Randall Runtsch / Alamy

GoFundMe raises $358,000 for teen ordered to pay $150,000 for killing alleged rapist

vt-author-image

By Phoebe Egoroff

Article saved!Article saved!

The former teacher of an Iowa teen - who was fined $150,000 for killing her alleged rapist - has managed to raise more than $358,000 for the teen's legal fees.

Pieper Lewis, 17, was initially charged with first-degree murder after she stabbed her alleged rapist to death. As previously reported, a 28-year-old man is believed to have found a then-15-year-old Lewis in a hallway after escaping an abusive home in 2020, eventually trafficking her to multiple men for sex.

One of the men who raped Lewis was identified as 37-year-old Zachary Brooks, who had assaulted her on numerous occasions leading up to his death. It was after one of these assaults at a Des Moines, Iowa, apartment that Lewis grabbed a knife from her bedside table and stabbed Brooks 30 times while he was sleeping in June 2020.

Speaking in defence of her crime, Lewis stated in court: "I took a person's life. My intentions that day were not to just go out and take somebody's life. In my mind, I felt that I wasn't safe and I felt that I was in danger, which resulted in the acts. But it doesn't take away from the fact that a crime was committed."

According to Iowa law, Brooks did not pose an immediate threat to her, as he was fast asleep at the time of his death.

As a result, Lewis pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and wilful injury - rather than first-degree murder - and was sentenced on those charges this week.

Both are punishable by up to 10 years in prison, however, then teen ended up being sentenced to five years' probation instead, per her GoFundMe page.

Pursuant to a 1997 law, those convicted of homicide must pay $150,000 in restitution to the victim's family - meaning that Lewis essentially owes her alleged rapist's family this amount, the BBC reported.

District Judge, David M Porter, frankly stated upon Lewis' sentencing: "The next five years of your life will be full of rules you disagree with, I'm sure of it. This is the second chance that you've asked for. You don't get a third."

In a prepared statement to the court, Lewis told the jury: "My spirit has been burned, but still glows through the flames. Hear me roar, see me glow, and watch me grow."

She finally added: "I am a survivor."

A GoFundMe page has since been set up by Lewis' former teacher, Leland Schipper, in an effort to raise funds for Lewis to pay her alleged rapist's family the $150,000, as well as an additional $4,000 in restitution she now owes to the state of Iowa.

In the page's description, Schipper has written a lengthy comment: "Today, my former student, Pieper Lewis bravely took the microphone during her sentencing hearing and told the courtroom that her voice mattered. I was incredibly proud of her."

"[The judge] decided that 834 days she spent in juvenile detention awaiting her sentencing was enough 'punishment' for a then fifteen-year-old girl who had been kicked out of her home and found herself sleeping in the stairwell of one of the most dangerous apartment complexes in Des Moines; a girl that was ultimately preyed upon by men twice her age who traded her body for drugs. These men physically [assaulted], raped, and sex trafficked Pieper on multiple occasions," Schipper detailed in the description.

wp-image-1263169279 size-full
Credit: GoFundMe.com

The former teacher continued: "The funds will be used in the following ways: 1) Pay off Pieper's 150k restitution 2) Pay off the additional 4k in restitution to the state 3) Remove financial barriers for Pieper in pursuing college/university or starting her own business 4) Give Pieper the financial capacity to explore ways to help other young victims of sex crimes! Thank you! You are all amazing."

The page has additionally received hundreds of comments in support of the young teen - with one father writing: "I wish I had more to give you. You did the right thing. You are a wonderful, beautiful and strong woman. As a father who has five daughters, I want to say thank you. I am so proud of you Little Sister, you are my hero. I will pray that you have an awesome life. And that you heal from your wounds. Assalamu Alaikum (May God's Peace, Blessings, and Mercy be upon you) Amen [sic]!"

wp-image-1263169275 size-full
Credit: GoFundMe.com

"I hope you can use these donations to do whatever you want with your life. Your life should've always been in your control. I'm sorry that was taken from you," someone else added.

wp-image-1263169276 size-full
Credit: GoFundMe.com

So far, over 9,000 people have made donations to the page, with some of the top donations being as high as $5,000. The current amount is sitting at a whopping $358,000.

Featured image credit: Randall Runtsch / Alamy