As previously reported by REVOLT, on Tuesday (Sept. 13), a court ordered 17-year-old Pieper Lewis to pay $150,000 in restitution to the family of a man who allegedly raped her and forced her to become a human trafficking victim at the age of 15. After hearing her heartbreaking story, GoFundMe donations came pouring in.
During Tuesday’s sentencing, Lewis pleaded guilty to willful injury and voluntary manslaughter for stabbing 37-year-old Zachary Brooks to death in June 2020 in Des Moines, Iowa. She also received five years of probation. Lewis’ freshman math teacher, Leland Schipper, at Des Moines Lincoln High School stepped in and organized the GoFundMe account, hoping donations would cover the teen’s costly restitution and legal fees.
“Help Pieper Lewis, Survivor of Sex Trafficking,” Schipper’s GoFundMe headline read. “Today, my former student, Pieper Lewis, bravely took the microphone during her sentencing hearing and told the courtroom that her voice mattered,” the post began.” Schipper noted he was proud of his former student for sharing her story and thanked the judge for “[studying] all the evidence in Pieper Lewis’ case carefully and [deciding] that she did not deserve to spend time in an adult prison.”
Schipper mentioned that at just 15 years old, Lewis was kicked out of her home and slept in “the stairwell of one of the most dangerous apartment complexes in Des Moines” for shelter. This is where Lewis was “preyed upon by men twice her age” who “physically assaulted, raped, and sex trafficked Pieper on multiple occasions.”
The GoFundMe added that Lewis’ restitution is because of a law stating the victim’s families should receive justice. “Pieper does not owe that man’s family justice,” Schipper wrote. In less than 48 hours, donations doubled.
As of today (Sept. 16), the GoFundMe has exceeded its $200,000 goal. The donations currently sit at over $453,000 and counting. The top contribution comes from an anonymous donor who gave $5,000.
Many attached words of encouragement to their GoFundMe donation. “Praying for your healing and your peace, and of course, for your success,” one donor wrote. Another said, “We’ve got you Ms. Lewis. You have the opportunity to save other young women from these predators. Bless you.”
A woman named Elizabeth Faulkner gave $100 to Lewis’ GoFundMe and commented, “Sending you all good wishes. Keep the flames glowing. I can’t wait to follow you and see the difference you will make in this world. Continued healing and peace.”
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