Iowa court orders girl who killed accused rapist to pay his family $150,000

Pieper Lewis, right, speaks with attorney Magdalena Reese (AP)
Pieper Lewis, right, speaks with attorney Magdalena Reese (AP)

A teenage human trafficking victim who stabbed her accused rapist to death has been ordered to pay his family $150,000 by an Iowa court.

Pieper Lewis, 17, was sentenced Tuesday after she pleaded last year to involuntary manslaughter and willful injury in the June 2020 killing of 37-year-old Zachary Brooks of Des Moines.

She was also placed under five years of closely-supervised probation.

Both offences carried up to ten years in prison each.

Polk County District judge David M. Porter on Tuesday deferred the prison sentences, meaning that if Ms Lewis violates any portion of her probation, she could be sent to prison to serve a 20-year term.

Judge Porter said that under state law, “this court is presented with no other option,” but to order Ms Lewis to pay restitution to her accused rapist’s family.

Ms Lewis was 15 when she stabbed Brooks more than 30 times in a Des Moines apartment.

Officials have said Lewis was a runaway who was seeking to escape an abusive life with her adopted mother and was sleeping in the hallways of a Des Moines apartment building when a 28-year-old man took her in before forcibly trafficking her to other men for sex.

One of those men was Brooks, said the teenager, and that he had raped her multiple times in the weeks before his death.

She told officials that after Brooks had raped her yet again, she grabbed a knife from a bedside table and stabbed Brooks in a fit of rage.

Police and prosecutors have not disputed that Lewis was sexually assaulted and trafficked.

However, prosecutors have argued that Brooks was asleep at the time he was stabbed and not an immediate danger to Lewis.

Iowa is not among the dozens of states that have a so-called ‘safe harbour’ law that gives trafficking victims at least some level of criminal immunity.

Lewis said in a statement: “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 added.