Sep 15, 2022

17-Year-Old Human Trafficking Victim Ordered To Pay Her Alleged Rapist’s Family Transcript

17-Year-Old Human Trafficking Victim Ordered To Pay Her Alleged Rapist's Family Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsIowa17-Year-Old Human Trafficking Victim Ordered To Pay Her Alleged Rapist’s Family Transcript

A judge is clearing the prison sentence for a 17-year-old Iowa girl who stabbed and killed her alleged rapist. Read the transcript here.

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Maya Eaglin: (00:00)
Tonight, a teenager, the alleged victim of unspeakable crimes of human trafficking and rape, after fatally stabbing her alleged rapist will stay out of prison. But a court ruling Pieper Lewis must pay $150,000 to the family of the man who raped her.

Pieper Lewis: (00:17)
The events that took place on the horrific day cannot be changed as much as I wish they could.

Maya Eaglin: (00:22)
17 year old Lewis pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter and willful injury in the 2020 killing 37 year old Zachary Brooks. She says he raped her multiple times in the weeks before his death.

Pieper Lewis: (00:34)
I wish the events that took place on June 1st, 2020 never occurred. But to say there’s only one victim to this story is absurd.

Maya Eaglin: (00:43)
Her charge is punishable by up to 10 years each in prison, but the judge taking a different path at sentencing.

Speaker 3: (00:49)
Ms. Lewis, I will defer your judgment.

Maya Eaglin: (00:51)
Lewis given five years of probation, but she could be sent to prison if she violates any part of that. Her conviction also carries an automatic requirement by Iowa law to pay restitution to Brooks’s estate. The judge saying the court was “presented with no other option.” Lewis’s attorney disagreeing at sentencing.

Speaker 4: (01:10)
If you defer judgment, Mr. Brooks’ estate is not entitled to any restitution whatsoever. And he frankly, his estate doesn’t deserve it because of his own conduct.

Maya Eaglin: (01:21)
A GoFundMe started for Lewis has now exceeded that amount, saying the excess money will support her continued education. Lewis was just 15 when she stabbed Brooks more than 30 times in a Des Moines apartment. Officials say she was a runaway seeking to escape an abusive foster home. Pieper said in court that a man took her in before forcibly trafficking her to other men for sex. She testified that one of those men was Brooks, who repeatedly raped her at knife point. We reached out to Brooks’s attorney, but have not heard back.

Maya Eaglin: (01:50)
Police and prosecutors have not disputed Lewis was assaulted and trafficked, but they have argued that Brooks was asleep at the time he was stabbed and not an immediate threat. Prosecutors today telling NBC News, they quote, “recommended that she goes to a woman’s facility to provide structure and deal with the issues that she has.” Advocates argue her actions were the result of the trauma she faced.

KellyMarie Meek: (02:12)
Many of the things that we heard during the trial around not only what she experienced, but also her reactions to that are very common trauma reactions for survivors.

Maya Eaglin: (02:22)
Pieper’s circumstances are not uncommon. Of the more than 25,000 cases of children who had run away and were reported missing to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 2021, the center says one in six were likely victims of child sex trafficking. Lewis is not the only alleged child sex trafficking victim to kill an abuser, but she is one of the few to avoid prison time after such a crime.

KellyMarie Meek: (02:47)
That does feel in some ways like a win, though to be really real and really frank, the way that our criminal legal system works, five years probation in a controlled facility means that you don’t have any wiggle room.

Pieper Lewis: (03:01)
That day, a combination of complicated actions took place resulting in the death of a person as well as stolen innocence of a child.

Speaker 6: (03:10)
Maya Eaglin joins us now. Maya, this is a really sad and complicated story. What’s next for Pieper? Where will she go now?

Maya Eaglin: (03:17)
So Pieper spent the last two years in a juvenile detention center. She completed her GED and now prosecutors are recommending that she head to a women’s facility. The judge even mentioning that that facility will help provide her the structure to successfully complete that probation period.

Speaker 6: (03:31)
You mentioned there was a GoFundMe page. How much has she been able to raise?

Maya Eaglin: (03:34)
So far over $260,000 from over 6,000 donations and someone who claims to be a former teacher of Pieper created that page for her.

Lester Holt: (03:45)
Thanks for watching our YouTube channel. Follow today’s top stories and breaking news by downloading the NBC News app.

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