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Gulf War vet confronts man who stalked, stabbed her

By ROBERT GAVIN | (Albany, N.Y.) Times Union | Published: November 25, 2014

ALBANY, N.Y> (Tribune News Service) — James Sayers picked the wrong victim.

And on Monday Nancy Crowe let him know it before a judge sentenced him to 18 years to life in prison.

The Gulf War veteran was viciously attacked by Sayers — a convicted child rapist paroled in May — after he followed her from Albany to Colonie, supposedly as just another passenger aboard a Capital District Transportation Authority bus on Aug. 14.

Sayers, a stranger to Crowe, tracked her, grabbed her from behind and forced her into woods, where he repeatedly stabbed the Colonie woman, hitting her face, throat and left eye, which lost sight as a result of the attack.

But the resilient Sayers, 50, who attained the rank of captain in the Army, fought back.

"I find it ironic that I survived 6½ months in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War in an area targeted by Scud missiles, constantly alert to the threat of chemical weapons and terrorist attacks — all without incident," Crowe told state Supreme Court Justice Thomas Breslin. "Twenty-three years later I came face-to-face with a stranger who tried to kill me. How obscene that I and my fellow veterans, along with current and future members of the military, sacrifice to secure the rights and freedoms of James Sayers, while James Sayers violates the rights and freedoms of others."

Sayers, 44, pleaded guilty to first-degree assault on Oct. 6. Crowe asked Breslin to impose the maximum sentence. The judge agreed.

"It is strange that someone who has given so much for the freedoms we all enjoy is put in a situation that they're a victim of a crime," Breslin told her.

On Aug. 14, Crowe got on the same bus as Sayers at Quail Street and Central Avenue in Albany and exited it at Central and Route 155 in Colonie. Sayers followed Crowe for nearly 1¼ miles on Route 155 and Watervliet Shaker Road. After fighting off Sayers, who was previously convicted of raping a 9-year-old girl in 1986, Crowe was treated at Albany Medical Center for life-threatening injuries.

When given a chance to speak, Sayers said: "I'd be a fool to sit here or stand here and justify my actions to Ms. Crowe. All I can say is that, one, that I'm sorry and no one can hate me more than I hate myself right now. So that's it."

Crowe said she will attend any future parole hearings for Sayers to ensure he stays locked up.

"I will do everything in my power that he doesn't get out to do this to anyone again," she said at a news conference with District Attorney David Soares, who was joined by prosecuting Assistant District Attorneys Eric Galarneau and Steven Sharp.

She said she wants to keep the scars to remind herself that Sayers "didn't defeat me. I was determined that night ... that I was going to survive at least to make sure people caught this guy. I didn't know if I would survive beyond that, but people were going to catch this guy."

Crowe said she would have looked forward to a trial, but was happy with the resolution of the case.

She said she did not think Sayers' apology was genuine but called that irrelevant.

"He doesn't matter to me," she said. "I'm going to be bigger than he is in this whole situation. I'm told I nearly bled to death. I survived it, and I'm in a better place than he is right now."

Sayers, a Level 3 or highest risk sex offender, also has convictions for robbery and attempted robbery.

Breslin told Crowe: "It is clear in listening to you that victim, I think, is in the past tense because while you may be the victim of this crime, I don't think you're going to be a victim in the future because you're rising above it and you're going to move forward and despite these circumstances I'm sure that there are very, very good things ahead for you because of your incredible will power and the person you are."

rgavin@timesunion.com • 518-434-2403 • @RobertGavinTU

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