A US teenager and trafficking victim has been sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay her alleged rapist’s family $150,000 (£130,350).
Pieper Lewis was 15 years old when she stabbed the man accused of raping her in Des Moines, Iowa in June 2020.
The now 17-year-old was initially charged with the first-degree murder of Zachary Brooks, 37.
She later pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and wilful injury – both charges being punishable by up to 10 years in jail.
On Tuesday, Lewis was instead sentenced to five years of closely supervised probation by Polk County District Judge David M Porter and ordered to pay $150,000 restitution to Brooks’ family.
She could be sentenced to 20 years if she violates her probation rules.
In regards to the payment to the alleged rapist’s estate, Judge Porter said: “This court is presented with no other option.”
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Restitution is mandatory under Iowa law that has been upheld by the Iowa Supreme Court.
Lewis had stabbed Brooks over 30 times in the Iowa apartment where the incident occurred.
Officials have stated that Lewis was a runaway looking to escape an abusive life with her adoptive mother.
She had been sleeping in the hallways of a Des Moines apartment building before she fell victim to trafficking when a 28-year-old man took her in and forcibly trafficked her to other men for sex.
Lewis stated that one of those men had been Brooks, who raped her multiple times in the weeks leading up to his death.
The teenager recalled how she had been forced by knifepoint by the 28-year-old man to go with Brooks to his apartment.
She told officials that she took a knife from the bedside table and stabbed Brooks in a fit of rage after he had raped her again.
Police and prosecutors have not disputed that Lewis was sexually assaulted or trafficked.
However, prosecutors have argued that Brooks was asleep at the time that he was stabbed and therefore not an immediate danger to Lewis.
They also took issue with her calling herself a victim when failing to take responsibility for killing Brooks and “leaving his kids without a father”.
Iowa is a state without any safe harbour laws that grant trafficking victims some criminal immunity.
Prosecutors also argued that Lewis waived any affirmative defence when she pleaded guilty.
Whilst in juvenile detention, Lewis admitted to struggling with the structure of the detention, saying she “was treated like fragile glass” and not allowed to communicate with her friends or family.
She added: “My spirit has been burned, but still glows through the flames.
“Hear me roar, see me glow, and watch me grow.
“I am a survivor.”
Lewis has previously agreed to have her name used in stories about her case.
She owned up to the crime but defended her actions, saying: “I took a person’s life.
“My intentions that day were not just to go out and take somebody’s life. In my mind, I felt that I wasn’t safe and I felt that I was in danger, which resulted in the acts. But it doesn’t take away from the fact that a crime was committed.”
Judge Porter said: “The next five years of your life will be full of rules you disagree with, I’m sure of it.
“This is the second chance that you’ve asked for. You don’t get a third.”
Karl Schilling with the Iowa Organization for Victim Assistance said a bill to create a safe harbour law for trafficking victims had passed the Iowa House earlier this year, but stalled in the Senate under concerns from law enforcement groups that it was too broad.