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Joyce Pecky, advocate for victims of police abuse, dies

Oct. 23, 1962 – Jan. 9, 2016

Joyce Pecky, who came forward to publicly tell her story of sexual abuse at the hands of a Buffalo police officer and hoped other victims of such abuse would follow, died of a sudden illness Saturday. She was 53.

Ms. Pecky died from an infection created by a troublesome kidney stone, said her teenage daughter, Jenna.

For a November article in The Buffalo News about the hundreds of police sexual abuse and misconduct cases arising around the nation, Ms. Pecky spoke candidly of the ordeal she went through in 2004-05 at the hands of a Buffalo officer, who was forced out of the department and convicted of official misconduct in 2006. Ms. Pecky believed that the problem of police sexual abuse is under-reported nationwide and deserves more attention. Some police administrators and researchers agree.

For the article, The News gathered data that showed that offending officers commonly preyed on women whose credibility was weakened by criminal records or drug or alcohol abuse. In Ms. Pecky’s case, she was led to believe the police officer could have her daughter taken away, because of Ms. Pecky’s history of drug use, if she did not give in to his demands whenever he knocked on her door.

Ms. Pecky was living on Mineral Springs Road and working toward a master’s degree in nutrition when the officer pulled over her car, enabling him to get her address. While she did not attain the degree, she worked as a dietitian and in other food-service roles. But as the years passed after the officer’s conviction, Ms. Pecky focused most intently – aside from her interest in animal rights – on police sexual misconduct.

She read studies and cataloged episodes of abuse she found on the Internet as she prepared to write a book.

When the rape trial of Oklahoma City Officer Daniel Holtzclaw made headlines around the nation last year for his attacks on more than a dozen black women, Ms. Pecky wrote online comments to say that sexual attacks by police place all women at risk, not black women alone.

Aside from her daughter Jenna, Ms. Pecky is survived by a son, Elliott Peter; a brother, James Pecky; a sister, Jill Willard; her father, Kenneth Pecky; and her mother, Helen Diebel.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday in St. John’s Lutheran Church, 55 Pleasant Ave., Lancaster.

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