Fundraiser for teen who killed her alleged rapist reaches goal of $150,000 in less than 24 hours

Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 3:05 PM CDT
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DES MOINES, Iowa (Gray News) – A community in Iowa raised more than $150,000 in restitution money for a girl who killed a man who allegedly raped her when she was being sex trafficked at 15 years old.

The fundraiser was created for 17-year-old Pieper Lewis by her former teacher, Leland Schipper.

Lewis was sentenced Tuesday after she pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in 2021. After hearing her testimony and studying the evidence in the case, the judge dropped the sentence from 20 years in prison to five years probation, KCRG reported. She was also ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution to the man’s family, which is mandatory under Iowa law and upheld by the state’s Supreme Court.

Officials said Lewis was a runaway who sought to escape an abusive life with her adopted mother. AP reports she was sleeping in the hallways of an apartment building in Des Moines when she was taken in by a 28-year-old man who later trafficked her to other men for sex.

Lewis said one of the men who raped her was 37-year-old Zachary Brooks. She said he had raped her multiple times in the weeks leading up to his death and said she had been forced at knifepoint by the 28-year-old man to go with Brooks to his apartment for sex.

In June 2020, after she said Brooks had raped her again, she grabbed a knife that was on a bedside table and stabbed him 30 times in a fit of rage.

Prosecutors have argued Brooks was asleep at the time he was stabbed and not an immediate danger to Lewis.

A fundraiser on GoFundMe was organized for Lewis by her former teacher, Leland Schipper, after her sentencing. The original goal was set at $150,000, enough to pay off the restitution owed to Brooks’ family.

On the GoFundMe page, Schipper said the goal had been reached, in less than 24 hours. He raised the goal to $200,000.

Schipper said the money raised would be used to pay off the $150,000 owed to Brooks’ family, pay the $4,000 in restitution owed to the state, and the remainder of the money would be used to help Lewis pursue a college education or start her own business. Schipper also said some of the money would go toward helping other victims of sex crimes.