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Alleged victim testifies in Waddington man’s sex-assault trial

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CANTON — A 25-year-old woman who claims James Sabre Jr. entered her Waddington home and tried to force her to have sex with him was the first witness to testify in Sabre’s sexual-assault trial Friday morning in St. Lawrence County Court.

Sabre, 44, of 56 Oak St., Waddington, is accused of sexually assaulting three women in summer, fall and winter 2010 at different locations in the village.

Sabre is charged with felony first-degree sexual abuse, felony second-degree burglary, second-degree burglary as a sexually motivated crime and four counts of felony first-degree attempted rape.

Under questioning from Assistant District Attorney Amanda N. Nissen, the woman said she, her boyfriend and another woman, whom prosecutors say Sabre allegedly tried to assault at an earlier date, had been drinking the night of Sept. 17, 2010 at a nearby bar. She said she was awakened early the next morning by the sound of Sabre’s voice, and saw the man she knew as “Bucky” standing in the doorway as she lay in bed wearing only a t-shirt.

“It was dark in my room, so I kind of panicked,” the woman said.

She called out for her boyfriend, who had left earlier to go to work in the Plattsburgh area. She said she reached for her mobile phone, didn’t find it at her side, and tried to get up.

The woman then described a struggle in which she said Sabre tried to pin her down on the bed, followed her around the trailer home as she searched in vain for her phone, and tried again to pin her down, his exposed genitals touching her groin. She said she managed to get up and pull on a pair of pants, but was cornered in the kitchen by Sabre, whom she said made her touch him, saying she “owed” him oral sex.

The woman then said she was going out to her car to look for her phone, and quickly drove away to the home of the female friend with whom they had been out drinking the previous night.

Defense attorney Peter A. Dumas asked the woman to confirm that in her efforts to escape and search for her phone, she passed the trailer’s front door without leaving the home — all while Sabre, his pants partly down, followed her around.

“I would have walked by it twice,” she replied.

Mr. Dumas also asked the woman whether she had ever had a physical relationship with Sabre, with whom she had been acquainted for several years.

She said she “never had sex with him,” but said that there had been minor contact, such as him smacking her buttocks or kissing her, but it was “mostly just flirty.”

Jurors also heard a 57-minute recording of Sabre being questioned on Sept. 18, 2010 by St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Brooks J. Bigwarfe, in which Sabre maintained his visit that morning was to confirm plans to attend a pig roast with the woman and her boyfriend later that day in South Colton.

Sabre’s voice is heard telling the detective that he called the boyfriend shortly before 6:20 a.m. and learned the man was en route to work. He said he went to the trailer on his bicycle to ask about a ride so he could help set up the roast, and that it was not uncommon for him to go there at early hours to have coffee.

Sabre explained to Mr. Bigwarfe that he saw the woman through her front door, coming out of the bathroom, and that “she looked rough.” He said he was still standing in the doorway as she rushed out, mumbling about calling her boyfriend, and quickly drove away.

“You couldn’t talk to her. She rushed out the door,” Sabre told Mr. Bigwarfe.

“I’m trying to figure out why a good friend of yours would make up such a drastic story,” Mr. Bigwarfe is heard asking.

Sabre said he didn’t know. He denied accusations of trying to force himself on the woman, but admitted there may have been “kinky” talk at the bar the previous night, including references to the woman owing him oral sex.

“I guarantee you I said something like that last night,” he is heard saying. “But not this morning.”

The woman’s boyfriend and Mr. Bigwarfe also testified Friday. So did Coleman Wright, 29, a Massena man who said he only met Sabre once, and had been drinking with him and another one of Sabre’s alleged targets — the friend who was drinking with the group on Sept. 17 — the night Sabre reportedly tried to have sex with her in an entrance to the bar in the summer of 2010 when they returned to look for her lost cell phone.

Mr. Wright told the court he did not see the alleged attack and was outside near that victim’s home nearby helping look for her phone in the driveway. He did say that the woman returned a short time later and made a disclosure “of a sexual nature” to him and her boyfriend. He was not asked to elaborate in court.

“We were going inside to confront” Sabre, Mr. Wright said. “But we decided the best thing to do was to leave.”

Testimony resumes Monday morning.

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