People have been left outraged and nauseated by a recent legal decision in the case of a teenage girl who killed the man she says raped her multiple times when she was 15 years old after she was trafficked for sex work while fleeing her abusive mother.
Along with a five-year supervised probation sentence served in a residential facility, 17-year-old Pieper Lewis, who is from Iowa, was ordered by District Judge David M. Porter to pay a state-mandated $150,000 in restitution to the family of her rapist Zachary Brooks.
That's the type of money that could ruin many people's lives, let alone a teenager's future.
At the very least, Lewis won't have to worry about that, because in just 24 hours the internet raised the entire $150,000, and then some, in an online fundraiser organized by one of her former teachers.
Pieper Lewis fundraiser raises full restitution amount less than 24 hours after sentencingyoutu.be
Lewis' story is truly horrific and heartbreaking. After running away from home in 2020 at the age of 15 to escape her mother's abuse, she was taken in by a man who found her sleeping in the hallway of an apartment building.
The man turned out to be a human trafficker, and forced her at knifepoint to go to Brooks, who she says had raped her several times prior to that evening, and "turn a trick" in exchange for marijuana.
Brooks drugged Lewis and when she woke up, he was raping her. She stabbed him 30 times after he later fell asleep.
Prosecutors did not dispute any aspect of her story, but moved to convict her on the basis that Brooks was asleep at the time of the stabbing and posed no immediate threat to Lewis.
Lewis was initially charged with first degree murder, which was downgraded to involuntary manslaughter and willful injury last year, to which she pleaded guilty.
Both charges carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years, but Lewis will serve probation instead, after which her record will be expunged.
In a powerful statement in court, Lewis insisted that while she regrets her actions, she is also the victim in the story. She told the court that no matter what came of her case, she was determined not to let it defeat her.
"I do not fear the thought of further incarceration. I fear not being able to accomplish some of my goals."
"No matter what the next chapter is, I will still rise. No matter what the judge's decision is today, I will still prevail."
Prevailing will be just a little bit easier thanks to her former teacher's GoFundMe, which has raised a staggering $387,760 and counting as of this writing.
On Twitter, people were deeply moved both by Lewis' determination and the internet having her back.
But the silver lining has done little to soften the blow of the shocking outcome of Lewis' case, which many people felt was unconscionable.
Lewis hopes to use the additional money to go to college once her probation is over, and she hopes to study fashion and graphic design.