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A fundraiser to help a Iowa teenager paying $150,000 in restitution to the family of an alleged rapist she killed raised more than double her goal.
Pieper Lewis, 17,’s GoFundMe account raised more than $378,833 from more than 10,000 donors on Thursday afternoon – after the court-ordered payout sparked national outrage.
The the page has been launched by his former math teacher Leland Schipper, who said the excess funds will be used to help Lewis pursue an education or start a business – and give him the opportunity to help other victims of sex crimes.
“Pieper’s path to true freedom will not be easy, and she is still a teenager who has been through a lot of trauma,” Schipper wrote on the page.
Lewis said she was a 15-year-old runaway when she pimped several men, including 37-year-old Zachary Brooks.
After having repeatedly raped hershe said she went into a blind rage and stabbed him 30 times in June 2020.
Prosecutors, who initially charged her with first-degree murder, argued he was asleep at the time of the attack and posed no immediate threat to her.
She pleaded guilty last year to manslaughter and intentional injury for killing the father-of-two. Prosecutors have not disputed that she was the victim of rape or sex trafficking.
Polk County District Judge David Porter issued a deferred ruling Sentenced to 20 years in prison on Tuesday which will be removed if she completes five years of supervised probation.
He also ordered her to pay Brooks’ family $150,000 – an amount he said he had to fix.
Under Iowa law, anyone convicted of a crime that results in the death of another person must pay at least that amount to the victim’s estate.
Lawyers for Lewis argued that she was a victim of sex trafficking and that it was cruel to force her to pay restitution to the family of her alleged attacker.
But Polk countered that the Iowa Supreme Court upheld the state restitution law even in the face of similar arguments.
Prosecutors said they filed charges against Lewis to ensure she gets the rehabilitation help she needs and to protect the public from someone capable of this degree of violence.
Lewis was 15 when she was first trafficked by a man, then 28, who called himself her boyfriend. He created a dating profile for her and forced her to have sex with other men for money, she said.
This man took her to Brooks’ apartment in May 2020 and ordered her to have sex with him. When she refused to return on another occasion, she said the man pulled out a knife and slit her neck.
The man who brought her to Brooks has not been charged. “The matter is under investigation and our office will not comment further,” Polk County District Attorney John Sarcone said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.