Iowa human trafficking victim Pieper Lewis on the run after escaping women’s center


Pieper Lewis
FILE – Pieper Lewis gives her allocution during a sentencing hearing, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022, in Des Moines, Iowa. Iowa authorities say Lewis, an 18-year-old sex trafficking victim who pleaded guilty to killing a man she said raped her escaped from a women’s center where she was serving her probation sentence. Lewis was seen walking out of the building at the Fresh Start Women’s Center in Des Moines shortly after 6:15 a.m. Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. (Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Des Moines Register via AP, File) Zach Boyden-Holmes/AP

Iowa human trafficking victim Pieper Lewis on the run after escaping women’s center

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An Iowa sex trafficking victim who was sentenced to probation after killing her rapist escaped a women’s center over 72 hours ago — and still has not been found.

Pieper Lewis, now 18, was sentenced at age 17 to five years of supervised probation on Sept. 14, over two years after she pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and willful injury in the death of Zachary Brooks. She was also ordered to pay $150,000 to Brooks’s family in restitution.


Lewis was completing probation at the Fresh Start Women’s Center in Des Moines, Iowa. At 6:19 a.m. on Friday, someone opened a door at the center, which set off an alarm and alerted a residential officer on duty, according to a probation violation report per the Des Moines Register.

An officer then saw Lewis exiting the building, and Lewis cut off her GPS monitor in her room before leaving the facility, according to the report.

As of Monday morning, there have been no arrest records for Lewis and she was not in custody at the Polk County Jail. Nicholas Crawford, spokesman for the Iowa Department of Corrections, confirmed that she has not been found.

The probation report asks that, upon her apprehension, her five-year probation be revoked and the “original sentence imposed,” which could be up to 20 years in prison, per the report.

At 15, Lewis stabbed and killed Brooks, 37, on June 1, 2020. Lewis testified that Brooks had taken her in after she escaped her abusive adopted mother, but he soon forced her into sex trafficking and sold her to other men. Police reports indicated that he also raped her several times before she killed him while he slept.

Prosecutors had argued that because Brooks was not awake at the time of the stabbing, he was not an immediate danger to Lewis. They wanted Lewis to pay restitution for leaving his children fatherless.

Polk County Judge David Porter gave Lewis a deferred judgment in September that ordered her to spend five years of probation at the women’s center, stating that this was her second chance with no possibility of a third.

Her sentencing sparked outrage across Iowa and the nation, with multitudes of people donating to a GoFundMe page to cover her restitution costs.

Leland Schipper, who started the GoFundMe, said he had not heard from Lewis directly since her sentencing, and she has not reached out following her escape from Fresh Start.


He added that neither he nor Lewis has access to the GoFundMe fund, which was set with a goal of $150,000 and ended up raising over $500,000.

“I am deeply concerned for Pieper’s safety and future,” Schipper said.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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