A GoFundMe for a 17-year-old victim of sex trafficking has raised over $365,000 in less than 48 hours.
An Iowa court sentenced a teen victim of human trafficking to five years probation and to pay $150,000 to the family of one of her abusers earlier this month.
Teen Who Killed Alleged Rapist Raises Over $365,000 To Pay Off Her Abuser
Pieper Lewis, 17, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and willful injury for fatally stabbing Zachary Brooks, 37, saying that Brooks raped her multiple times in 2020 when she was 15 years old.
Survivors of sexual trafficking and advocates quickly assembled their resources to support Lewis in any way possible and a former teacher put together a GoFundMe for the now 17-year-old, raising over $365,000 in less than 48 hours.
The fundraiser was started by the teen’s math teacher Leland Schipper from Des Moines Lincoln High School. They hoped to raise enough money for the $150,000 restitution payment required by Iowa state law, regardless of circumstance.
“This law is intended to provide justice to families who lost their loved ones. However, in the case of Pieper, it will require her to pay 150,000 dollars to the family of a man who purchased Pieper’s fifteen-year-old body from a sex trafficker, gave her drugs and alcohol, and then raped her repeatedly,” Schipper explained in the GoFundMe description.
“Pieper does not owe that man’s family justice. Pieper does not deserve to be finically burdened for the rest of her life because the state of Iowa wrote a law that fails to give judges any discretion as to how it is applied. This law doesn’t make sense in many cases, but in this case, it’s morally unjustifiable. A child who was raped, under no circumstances, should owe the rapist’s family money.”
And while it is not clear if Iowa law will allow Lewis to use the funds to pay the restitution, Schipper plans to continue fundraising and allocate funds to pay the additional $4,000 restitution to the state. This will help remove financial barriers for Lewis in terms of pursuing a college or other form of higher education, and to “give Piper the financial capacity to explore ways to help other young victims of sex crimes.”
For those who want to help victims of trafficking but may not have the funds to do so, Lewis’ attorney Paul White encourages folks to spread her story.
“Help Pieper and girls like her by saying we’re not accepting trafficking. That’s how we help Pieper. Don’t let her story be forgotten.”
And if the money raised from GoFundMe cannot be used for the fine, Schipper says that “there will be ways that it can be used to help sex trafficking victims.”
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