DES MOINES, Iowa — The sentencing of Pieper Lewis, the Des Moines teenager who killed the man she says raped and trafficked her, has brought national attention to Iowa. Advocates who work with survivors of sexual assault hope the judge chooses to let Lewis out of her handcuffs.

Lewis pleaded guilty to killing 37-year-old Zachary Brooks in June 2020, when Lewis was just 15 years old. She said she was raped and subsequently overcome by rage when she repeatedly stabbed Brooks.

She faces up to 20 years in prison for charges of involuntary manslaughter and willful injury. Her sentencing, which was expected to happen Wednesday, was instead pushed back to September 13.

KellyMarie Meek of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault believes Lewis should be looked at as a victim of sexual and emotional abuse, and that the teenager should not be behind bars.

“The best way that we can bring hope and healing to survivors is to give them back power and control over their lives, bodies, and choices,” Meek said. “As long as she’s in custody, she doesn’t have that.”

Meek, who has worked with IowaCASA for more than a decade, said sexual violence victims such as Lewis need extensive counseling and mental health support above all.

“I’m hopeful that we will find a way to bring her back into the community so she can get the support that she needs to heal from not only the trafficking, but all of the continued harm she’s experienced,” Meek said.