Who is Pieper Lewis?
Imagine being 15 years old and sold to a 37 year old man who raped you for weeks, and weeks, and weeks! Unfortunately, this is more than an imaginary situation for Pieper Lewis, this is her reality. At the age of 15, Pieper Lewis was facing 20 years in prison for killing her rapist, 37 year old Zachary Brooks, who purchased her from her trafficker– a man who has yet to have ONE charge brought against him. Piper deserves justice, and still has not gotten it!
On June 1, 2020, Pieper feared for her life and murdered her rapist using a knife that was near the bedside of Zachary Brooks. Pieper, to her, this act was only way she could save herself or be free from constantly being raped, drugged and beaten. However, being seen as a child victim of sex trafficking— which she is— was never given to her… she was immediately arrested, charged with first degree murder, and incarcerated… because she, a 14 year old girl, killed the 37 year old man who had been raping her for weeks. This is the terrible truth that happened to Pieper Lewis.
Pieper Lewis, is the definition of double-victimization. Victimized by a trafficker (someone who sells people), a John or Jane (someone who pays for sex), and then by the Justice System. Instead of seeing her as the victim, they painted the grossly inaccurate picture that she was a criminal.
She is NOT a prostitute. Children CANNOT consent to sex with adults. This was NOT her choice, her trafficker forced and arranged her rape. When she begged her trafficker to not make her go, he held a knife to her neck until she was compliant. She was already a part of several vulnerable populations that are highly susceptible to becoming trafficking victims; she is (1) A minority (2) a foster child (3) has a history of abuse and trauma with her foster/adoptive parents. As a result of being in an abusive foster home, she ran away and ended up sleeping in hallways of apartment complexes, where she was then forcibly trafficked.
During Pieper’s sentencing it was determined that the time she served in the juvenile detention center was a suitable sanction for her crime. Though some see a sentence that includes no jail time as a small victory and a move in the right direction… It is repulsive and disrespectful to victims everywhere. Pieper is a VICTIM, and should be treated as such. She was raped and defended herself in the best way she could. The sentence was deferred by the judge. So instead of physical jail time, she was ordered to five years' probation with restitution and 200 hours of community service each year for the next three years.
Although there are people who see her as a killer, or a criminal, there are others who understand EXACTLY what happened in this case and are able to see Pieper for the brave child she is. The uproar and injustice of Pieper having to pay $150,000 to her rapist’s family pushed for a flood of support and call for advocacy. A GoFundMe was created by Leland Schipper, a former math teacher of Pieper’s, where he states “[he’s] incredibly proud of her...The judge recognized that Pieper was a victim and a child. He like almost everyone who knows the details of Pieper’s case, empathized with a girl with no violent history before or after this incident, who saw killing a man as the only way out of a truly horrific situation.” As a result of his moving testimony, thousands more individuals were encouraged to support Pieper. It even raised over $500,000 in one day, which is above the amount Pieper was ordered to pay in restitution. But advocacy has no finish line. There is still more to be done. Pieper should be INNOCENT OF ALL CHARGES. That is what justice looks like! Pieper should be compensated for the years of her life she lost in the juvenile detention facility.
Since her sentencing Pieper has completed her GED and released a statement. She stated “I took a person’s life...My intentions that day were not to just go out and take somebody’s life. In my mind, I felt that I was in danger which resulted in the acts. But it does not take away from the fact that a crime was committed.” Following her reflection of what it has been like in the juvenile detention center she maintained, “hear me roar, see me glow, and watch me grow... I am a survivor.” Pieper is only one example of a survivor of child trafficking and deserves more outcry over the sequence of events and lack of justice delivered by a system that has historically viewed victims as offenders.