Iowa teen who killed her alleged rapist escapes

(CNN) — Pieper Lewis, the Iowa teen who killed a man she said raped her and was sentenced to probation and restitution to her family, escaped from a correctional facility, according to the Department of Corrections for the Fifth Judicial District of Iowa.

Lewis “ran away from the Fresh Start Women’s Center on Friday at 6:19 a.m. after cutting off her electronic tracking device,” Jerry Evans, the district’s executive director, told CNN in an email Sunday morning. . “At this time, her whereabouts are unknown.”

Officials filed a parole violation report, Evans said, recommending that his parole be revoked. “An arrest warrant was subsequently issued and remains outstanding.”

Lewis was 15 years old when she killed a man she said had raped her multiple times, CNN previously reported. He received a deferred sentence from Polk County District Judge David Porter after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter and intentional injury, and in September an Iowa judge ordered Lewis to pay his family $150,000 in restitution, as required by Iowa law.

Porter also ruled that Lewis would receive five years’ probation, complete 200 hours of community service and pay another $4,000 in civil penalties. The deferred sentence meant that it could be expunged from Lewis’s file.

The Des Moines facility Lewis escaped from is a residential correctional facility, according to the Fifth Judicial Circuit Department of Corrections website. “It accepts residents with mixed legal status,” who may be admitted “as a condition of parole or probation,” she says. The program aims to “provide a safe and holistic approach to supervision that seeks to educate, support and advocate for all women to transform their lives,” the website says.

Lewis pleaded guilty in June 2021 to the murder of Zachary Brooks, saying in the plea agreement that the 37-year-old raped her multiple times in 2020. She was initially charged with premeditated murder.

In the settlement, Lewis said he ran away from home multiple times and ended up sleeping in the hallway of an apartment complex.

A man took her in, but she left when he became abusive, she wrote in the plea agreement. She said she then moved in with another man who created an online dating profile for her and arranged for men to have sex with her for money. She lived with that man, who told her she was his girlfriend, from April 2020 until she was arrested for killing Brooks, Lewis said.

She was introduced to Brooks in May 2020, and he gave her alcohol and marijuana and had sex with her five times while she was unconscious over a three-day period, she said. Lewis found out what he had done, according to her statement, every time she regained consciousness from her and he was still on top of her.

On May 31, the man Lewis lived with confronted her with a knife after she refused his order to go to Brooks’ apartment to have sex with him in exchange for marijuana, she wrote. Finally, she agreed to go after he cut her throat, she said in her statement.

At Brooks’ apartment, she was forced to drink vodka shots and fell asleep, she wrote. At one point she woke up and Brooks was raping her, she said. Brooks fell asleep and Lewis went to get her clothes. When she returned to the bedroom, she saw him passed out and naked, she wrote.

“I suddenly realized that Mr. Brooks had raped me once again and I was filled with rage. Without thinking, I immediately grabbed the knife from his nightstand and started stabbing him,” Lewis stated in the plea agreement. “I further acknowledge that the multiple stab wounds I inflicted on Mr. Brooks thereafter ultimately resulted in his death.”

Defenders express their concern

By ordering community service, Judge Porter said it would give Lewis the opportunity to tell her “story to other young and vulnerable women in our community.”

Lewis’ lawyer said he was pleased with the court’s stay of his sentence, praising his courage. But advocates for victims of sexual violence disagree.

“I don’t think justice has been served,” KellyMarie Meek of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault said at the time, expressing concern about Lewis’s ability to serve the terms of his parole due to the severity of his trauma.

“Because I know that a lot of the ways trauma survivors cope are not very well understood by people who haven’t experienced the trauma, which can sometimes lead to behaviors that get people into trouble.” , said.

Lewis is one of several teenage girls, often of color, who have been legally penalized or convicted of killing their trafficker or sex offender in recent years in the United States.

“It’s a story that has become all too familiar, unfortunately,” Cyntoia Brown told “PBS Newshour.” Brown, now 32, was sentenced to life in prison for killing a man she paid to rape her when she was a 16-year-old trafficking victim. She was granted clemency in 2019 after spending half her life behind bars.

“She was a victim in this situation,” Brown, now an advocate for criminal justice reform, said of Lewis. “She’s not only going to have to serve time in a facility, but in the next five years, anything she does may trigger her to serve a 20-year sentence. So she’s not truly free.”

CNN’s Lucy Kafanov, Chuck Johnston and Dalila-Johari Paul contributed to this report.

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