Crowdfunding raises more than double the $211k US teen was ordered to pay after killing her alleged rapist
Donations poured in for an Iowa teenager on Thursday, doubling the US$150,000 (S$211,000) a court ordered her to pay the family of a man she killed after he allegedly raped her on multiple occasions.
As of Thursday morning, a GoFundMe page for Pieper Lewis, 17, had raised more than $340,000, well past its $200,000 goal, less than two days after a judge sentenced the Des Moines teen in the killing of her accused rapist, whom she stabbed to death in 2020, Reuters reported.
“As the donations have increased, I am overjoyed with the prospect of removing this burden from Pieper,” said Leland Schipper, her former high school maths teacher, who set up the page to help pay the restitution and for her education.
Lewis pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and willful injury in June 2021, a year after she killed Zachary Brooks, 37, in Des Moines.
Lewis was 15 years old and homeless when she met Brooks in May 2020.
Lewis said she was a victim of sex trafficking and that Brooks sexually assaulted her on the night they met and again the night she stabbed him to death in a fit of rage while he slept.
“My story can change things. My story has changed me,” Lewis said during her sentencing hearing on Tuesday. “The events that took place on that horrific day cannot be changed, as much as I wish I could.”
Lewis had agreed to have her name used in reports about her case, according to AP.
During the hearing, Polk County District Judge David Porter sentenced Lewis to five years probation and ordered her to perform 1,200 hours of community service.
He also ordered her to pay $150,000 to Brooks’ family, saying he was bound by Iowa law to require her to pay restitution, the Des Moines Register reported.
Her attorneys were considering appealing the restitution order. The office of Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said donations can be used to pay the restitution.
Other media reports have quoted officials as saying that Lewis was a runaway seeking to escape an abusive life at home and was sleeping in the hallways of a Des Moines apartment building when a 28-year-old man took her in before trafficking her to other men for sex.
Lewis said one of those men was Brooks and that he had raped her multiple times in the weeks before his death.
She recounted being forced at knifepoint by the 28-year-old man to go with Brooks to his apartment for sex. 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.