Donations Pour In for Girl Who Must Pay Accused Rapist's Family

Fundraiser for Pieper Lewis raised more than $200K in 24 hours
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2022 3:22 PM CDT
Fundraiser for Trafficking Victim Gets 'Beautiful' Response
Pieper Lewis speaks during a sentencing hearing, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022, in Des Moines, Iowa.   (Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Des Moines Register via AP, File)

On Tuesday, teenage human trafficking victim Pieper Lewis was ordered to pay $150,000 to the family of her accused rapist, a 37-year-old Iowa man she stabbed to death in 2020. On Wednesday, a GoFundMe campaign set up to help her hit $150,000—and kept going, reaching $230,000 as of this writing. The campaign was created last fall by Leland Schipper, who taught Lewis math at a Des Moines high school, the Des Moines Register reports. Schipper says it had only raised $4,000 by last week, but he reworked the campaign and donations flooded in from around the country after Tuesday's ruling.

Lewis, 17, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and willful injury, but Polk County District judge David M. Porter deferred the sentences, ordering the teen spend five years on probation. Under a state law, he was also required to order her to pay $150,000 in restitution. Schipper said the ruling was "compassionate," because the judge decided Pieper, who spent 834 days in juvenile detention, shouldn't go to adult prison—but the restitution law is flawed. "It will require her to pay 150,000 dollars to the family of a man who purchased Pieper’s fifteen-year-old body from a sex trafficker, gave her drugs and alcohol, and then raped her repeatedly," he wrote on the GoFundMe page.

"Pieper’s case is so obvious to people why this law is flawed, but she’s not unique in this law being problematically applied," Schipper tells the Register. "It's beautiful and it's amazing," he says of the response to the fundraising campaign. After the total passed $150,000, he said he was "overjoyed with the prospect of removing this burden from Pieper," the Guardian reports. He said the money beyond $150,000 will be used to help Pieper pursue further education and will give her "the financial capacity to explore ways to help other young victims of sex crimes." (Read more human trafficking stories.)

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