After being sentenced to probation for manslaughter and escaping from a women’s shelter in Iowa, an 18-year-old sex trafficking victim who murdered her rapist might be sent to jail.
Based on information provided by a probation officer and the shelter’s residential supervisor, an arrest warrant was obtained for Pieper Lewis after she was last seen leaving the Fresh Start Women’s Center in Des Moines at about 6:15 a.m. on Friday. According to the report, Lewis severed the GPS monitor she was required to wear as part of her sentence and fled the institution.
As of Monday afternoon, according to Nick Crawford, spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Corrections, Lewis could not be found.
Paul Parizek, a spokesman for the Des Moines Police Department, said that officers were alerted to keep an eye out for Lewis after receiving word from state correctional authorities. If located, he said she would be handed over to law enforcement for processing.
The public defender representing Lewis did not immediately return messages Monday.
In September, Lewis was sentenced to five years of probation, which she must spend in the women’s shelter, by Polk County Judge David Porter. Further, he granted her a delayed judgement, which would result in the dismissal of her sentence when she has fulfilled the terms of her probation. At Lewis’s sentencing hearing, Porter said he was giving her a second shot by letting her stay out of jail. “”There is no third,” he told her.
After admitting last year to involuntary manslaughter and deliberate harm in the June 2020 death of Zachary Brooks, 37, a married father of two, Lewis faced a possible 20-year prison term. Lewis stabbed Brooks around 30 times in an apartment in Des Moines when she was just 15 years old.
The Department of Corrections has requested a hearing so they may petition the court to have her probation and deferred judgment revoked and sentence her to jail.
Lewis claims she was sexually trafficked against her will to Brooks on many occasions, and that she stabbed him in a fit of fury when he forced her to have sex with him again. The sexual assault and trafficking of Lewis were not contested by law enforcement. But the guy she said compelled her to have sex with men, including Brooks, was never brought to justice.
According to the court records, Lewis was released from the shelter so that she could take a job at a pizza parlor. Since October 13th, the records indicated, she had been late returning from work seven times, which is a regulation she had broken. According to the documents, the authorities were using the GPS tracker to closely watch her whereabouts. Other infractions were also highlighted, such as her meeting with an ex-boyfriend without permission.
Located in a residential area north-northwest of Des Moines, this shelter provides beds for 48 people. Inmates on parole, work release, or pretrial release for women are housed here.
Adding insult to injury, Porter had also demanded that Lewis pay $150,000 in compensation to Brooks’ estate, a decision that many felt to be completely unjustified. According to Porter, the repayment was mandated under Iowa law. According to the case files, Lewis’ attorney has requested the court to reconsider, and Porter has asked for legal papers on the matter to be filed by November 10. Within 30 days, he promised to provide a ruling.
After Lewis’ sentencing hearing in September, her public defender Matthew Sheeley wrote that Lewis’ sex trafficker, then 28 years old, threatened her with a knife and forced her to go with Zachary Brooks “to “turn a trick” for fifty dollars’ worth of pot. He argued that since Brooks raped her before she stabbed him, the severity of her crime should be reduced.
Sheeley has requested Porter to revise his ruling after arguing that the repayment order is disproportionate and infringes on her rights.
Over $560,000 has been donated thanks to a GoFundMe effort created by a high school teacher who tutored Lewis. According to the website, they are no longer accepting contributions.
The instructor, Leland Schipper, expressed his sadness and fear for Lewis’s safety after learning that she had left the shelter after being sentenced in September. Schipper told The Des Moines Register that he had not spoken to Lewis since her sentencing. He clarified that neither he nor Lewis have access to the funds, which are still held by the GoFundMe organization.
According to the official documents, the compensation has not been paid.
While the AP does not normally identify sexual assault victims, Lewis gave permission for her name to be used in earlier coverage on her case.