Judge Ordered Human Trafficking Victim to Pay $150k for Killing Her Attacker. Then the Internet Stepped In.

Pieper Lewis, an Iowa teenager, has already lived through the nightmare of experiencing multiple sexual assaults when she was captured as a human trafficking victim two years ago by nasty, evil men when she was only 15. That nightmare swiftly ended when she fought back, stabbing her attacker numerous times after yet another sexual assault.

Most decent people would cheer on her extreme bravery, but that wasn’t the case in the Iowa court system, as a judge punished her with serious charges for ultimately saving her own life. Adding insult to injury, the judge ordered her to pay $150,000 to the estate of the dead rapist. You read that correctly — she has to pay the family of the monster who repeatedly raped her.

The Hill reported:

Pieper Lewis was 15 years old when she stabbed and killed 37-year-old Zachary Brooks after, she says, he repeatedly raped her.

She pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and willful injury. She faced up to 20 years in prison, but a judge on Tuesday handed her a deferred sentence that allows her to serve five years of probation, perform community service and get counseling.

However, her conviction carries with it an automatic requirement by law that she pay $150,000 in restitution to her victim’s family.

The news of the restitution payment sparked an immediate backlash, and the social media world didn’t take long to devise an effective way to help the teen out and reward her for taking the brave action of defending herself with deadly force.

In less than 24 hours, a GoFundMe page set up for Lewis managed to raise an astonishing $340,000, and by the time this piece is published, it’ll undoubtedly be higher. The initial goal, according to Leland Schipper, the person who created the page and one of Lewis’ former teachers, was to raise $200,000. That goal was quickly crushed.

Schipper wrote:

However, in Iowa, there is a law that states that anyone who is convicted of killing a person, regardless of circumstances, must pay that individual’s family 150,000 dollars. This law is intended to provide justice to families who lost their loved ones. However, in the case of Pieper, it will require her to pay 150,000 dollars to the family of a man who purchased Pieper’s fifteen-year-old body from a sex trafficker, gave her drugs and alcohol, and then raped her repeatedly.

Pieper does not owe that man’s family justice.

The GoFundMe organizer laid out exactly how the funds will be used, first taking $150,000 to pay the restitution and get that awful punishment behind her. The rest of the funds will be appropriated to pay other fines, costs of the probation sentence, university tuition, and, if enough is raised, start-up capital to help Lewis launch her own business.

Schipper added in the latest update:

The funds will be used in the following ways: 1) Pay off Piepers 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.

Notably, over 8,700 individual donations had been made to the fundraiser as of Thursday morning. GoFundMe also reveals the “top” donations of a fundraiser, and several “anonymous” individuals have donated $5,000 each to Lewis, with many four-figure donations to boot. Messages of support flooded the GoFundMe page.

“I am sorry that a pointless law is penalizing you for doing the right thing. You deserve a better life and to be surrounded by good & supportive people. I wish you nothing but the best in the future!” one donor wrote.

Another added: “I’m so sorry this is happening to you. Please know you are in my prayers. As soon as you finish your required probation, please move out of Iowa. Their laws do not protect you. Texas is a great state for you to consider.”

Iowa is one of a handful of states that do not have any “safe harbor” laws on the books that would have given victims like Lewis some level of criminal immunity for fighting back to save her own life. Perhaps that will soon change.

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