Iowa Teen Sex Trafficking Victim Who Killed One of Her Alleged Assailants Escapes Custody: Reports

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After being sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay $150,000 restitution for stabbing an alleged abuser to death, Pieper Lewis, 17, has escaped custody in Iowa, according to reports.

An Iowa teenage human-trafficking victim who was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay $150,000 restitution after stabbing one of her abusers to death has escaped custody, according to The New York Post.

Pieper Lewis, 17, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and willful injury in the June 2020 killing of 37-year-old Zachary Brooks of Des Moines, Iowa, according to The Associated Press.

Lewis, then 15, had run away to escape an abusive life to live with a 28-year-old Des Moines musician she called her "boyfriend,” according to The Des Moines Register. 

Lewis said this man — who has not been charged — sex-trafficked her, allegedly forcing her into situations where other adult men would rape her, including Zachary Brooks, per the outlet. 

Lewis said she stabbed Brooks to death in a fit of rage after he raped her multiple times, leading to a judge sentencing her five years probation and ordering her to pay $150,000 restitution to the man's family, according to The New York Post.

The restitution order sparked criticism but Polk County Judge David M. Porter said “this court is presented with no other option” since restitution is mandatory under Iowa law, and a GoFundMe campaign was created to pay that restitution raised well over $560,000 to cover the restitution and pay for her other needs.

According to local outlet the Des Moines Register, Porter gave Lewis a deferred judgment on Sept. 13, 2022, ordering her to spend five years on probation at the Fresh Start Women's Center in Des Moines.

Shortly after 6 a.m. on Friday, someone opened a door at Fresh Start, setting off an alarm and alerting a residential officer on duty, according to a probation violation report.

The officer saw Lewis exiting the building and Lewis' GPS monitor was cut off at some point that Friday, according to the report. 

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the Des Moines Police Department, and the Brooks family were notified of Lewis’ escape, and a warrant was issued for her arrest, according to the Des Moines Register. 

The probation report asked for her deferred judgment to be revoked and her "original sentence imposed,” meaning Lewis could face up to 20 years in prison.

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