Pieper Lewis, a 15-year-old sex-trafficking victim, stabbed her rapist to death in 2020. Now 17, she's been ordered to pay $150,000 to the family of Zachary Brooks and sentenced to five years' probation in a residential facility—with up to 20 years in prison waiting for her if she steps out of line. She must also perform 1,200 hours of community service.
"The next five years of your life will be full of rules you disagree with, I'm sure of it," [Polk County District judge David M] Porter said. "This is the second chance that you've asked for. You don't get a third."
The Des Moines register has more detailed coverage of the trial, including a quote from a neurologist which exemplifies how these adults are thinking about a raped, sex-trafficked child.
"She also needs to be taught accountability so she does not stumble back into the life that led to her involvement in sex trafficking"
The judge said he was bound by sentencing requirements that mandated $150,000 blood money for Brooks' kinfolk after Lewis pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter. Some reporters made a note of his attitude:
From an NPR story:
The judge peppered Lewis with repeated requests to explain what poor choices she made that led up to Brooks' stabbing and expressed concern that she sometimes did not want to follow rules set for her in juvenile lockup.
Prosecutors took issue with Lewis calling herself a victim in the case and said she failed to take responsibility for stabbing Brooks and "leaving his kids without a father."
Lewis' statement after the sentence:
"My spirit has been burned, but still glows through the flames. Hear me roar, see me glow, and watch me grow," Lewis read on Tuesday from a statement she had prepared, the Associated Press news agency reports. "I am a survivor," she added. In 2020, Lewis was sleeping in a hallway after fleeing an abusive home when a man took her in and trafficked her to others for sex. She told the court one of them was Brooks, 37, and that he had raped her many times.
15 years old.