DES MOINES, IOWA — Pieper Lewis had her sentence deferred yesterday along with having to pay restitution to her alleged rapist’s family.
Pieper Lewis was 15 when she stabbed Zachary Brooks, 37, more than 30 times on June 1, 2020. Since then Pieper has pled guilty, but shared her story through the sentencing period. Pieper alleges she was raped multiple times by Zachary Brooks as part of a human trafficking ring; where her boyfriend Christopher Brown allegedly trafficked her over dating apps.
The restitution she was required to pay amounts to $150,000. The judge had to hand down that penalty due to a precedent set by the Iowa State Supreme Court. Her having to pay those fines caused a GoFundMe to raise over a quarter of a million dollars in just under 24 hours.
The GoFundMe organizer was a former teacher of Pieper’s. He taught her 9th grade algebra at Des Moines Public Schools and described her as a student.
“She’s just a joyous, like super happy kid,” said Leland Schipper, Pieper’s former teacher. “Well liked by her friends. Well liked by her teachers.”
Schipper set up the GoFundMe in December of 2021, after Pieper pled guilty. He said that he set it up because he knew she would have a mountain of legal costs that she couldn’t afford.
“Really knowing that she was going through this whole process and going to have financial barriers,” said Schipper. “The $150,000 restitution is just a shocking figure. That doesn’t seem just in this situation that I think has led a lot of people to donate money.”
And donate they have, almost 7 thousand people have sent money to the GoFundMe. People from all over the world are donating and writing messages to Pieper.
“Brave Pieper, sending you best wishes from Germany,” wrote Lindsay Schmauss.
“Stay strong! Greetings from the Netherlands,” wrote Erik Westerhof.
“Pieper this does not define you. Soar baby Soar,” wrote Nicole Scott.
The instant traction after the sentencing is something Schipper assumed could happen on Tuesday night.
“As I was going to bed I told my wife that I think this might get kind of big,” said Schipper. “I felt like this could be something by the end of the day that was going to be really, really awesome for Pieper.”
Schipper said all the money will be going to Pieper to pay off legal costs and pursue her dreams. Pieper’s legal team told WHO 13 News that they were aware of the GoFundMe and that Schipper had been in contact with them.
Schipper said he raised the asking price to $200,000 on Wednesday morning after making sure that was okay with Pieper’s attorneys. He said he did not want to speak for her and what she needs.
“I just really hope that Pieper knows how proud the community is of her and that she’s had a chance to see the outpouring support that she’s had,” said Schipper. “From not only the Des Moines community, but from the state and from the nation. So if Pieper is able to see this, I really hope that she gets that message.”
Pieper is still in custody until a bed spot opens up at a women’s fresh start facility.