Teen girl convicted of killing her rapist escapes custody

Nov. 6 (UPI) — Pieper Lewis, the teen girl who killed her rapist when she was the victim of sex trafficking, has escaped custody from a women’s center in Iowa.

Lewis, now 18, exited the Fresh Start Women’s Center in Des Moines around 6:19 a.m. Friday after someone opened a door at the facility that set off an alarm, according to a probation violation report obtained by the Des Moines Register. Her escape was confirmed by corrections officials to KCCI.

Officials said in the probation violation report that Lewis had also cut off her GPS tracker and “went on the run” from the facility, and requested a warrant be issued for her arrest.

Lewis, then 15, was living with a 28-year-old man who allegedly listed her on dating websites to have men pay to have sex with her. She alleged that the man threatened her at knifepoint and forced her to have sex with 37-year-old Zachary Brooks in May 2020.

She pleaded guilty in September to voluntary manslaughter for killing Brooks by fatally stabbing him and said in court documents that she “did not want to have sex” with him and that she fell asleep at his apartment and woke up to him raping her.

“I suddenly realized that Mr. Brooks had raped me yet again and (I) was overcome with rage,” Lewis wrote in her plea.

She fled the scene but was arrested the next day and was later sentenced to five years of probation at the Fresh Start Women’s Center.

She was also ordered to complete 1,200 hours of community service, which would cover more than $4,000 in fines, and to pay $150,000 in compensation for the death of her victim.

A fundraiser on GoFundMe set up to aid Lewis after her arrest raised more than $562,000 to help her pay the restitution.

“Today, the judge recognized that Pieper was a victim and a child. He, like almost everyone who knows the details of Pieper’s case, empathized with a girl with no violent history before or after this incident, who saw killing a man as the only way out of a truly horrific situation,” the fundraiser reads.

“Pieper only found herself in this situation because she was initially charged as an adult with first-degree murder. DMPD and the Polk County prosecutor’s office saw Pieper immediately as a grown, violent, adult, murderer, and they charged her as such.”

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