France detains American who sent ‘So I raped you’ Facebook message, sought after on 2021 warrant

An American man, who is accused of sexually assaulting a college student in Pennsylvania back in 2013 and later sending her a disturbing Facebook message stating, “So I raped you,” has finally been apprehended in France after a lengthy three-year search.

Ian Thomas Cleary, a 31-year-old resident of Saratoga, California, has been arrested and is currently in custody in Metz, France. The local prosecutor has confirmed the news and stated that Cleary will remain in custody until extradition proceedings take place.

An international search had been underway for Cleary ever since Pennsylvania authorities issued a felony warrant in 2021. This came shortly after an Associated Press article shed light on the hesitancy of local prosecutors in pursuing campus sex crimes.

A French judicial official reported that Cleary was apprehended during a routine police check on the streets of Metz on April 24. During his interrogation, he informed the magistrate that he had migrated to France from Albania two or three years ago and had recently arrived in Metz. However, he did not possess any accommodation in the city. Despite attempts to reach out, the French lawyer assigned to his case did not respond to a phone message seeking comment on Tuesday.

According to his online posts, Cleary has previously spent time in France and has connections to California and Maryland. Cleary’s father is a tech executive in Silicon Valley, while his mother resides in Baltimore. Despite numerous attempts to contact them, neither Cleary nor his parents have responded to multiple phone and email messages from the AP, including calls made on Tuesday.

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Shannon Keeler, the accuser in the Gettysburg case, underwent a rape examination on the day she was assaulted in 2013. Over the years, she diligently collected witnesses and evidence, persistently urging officials to press charges. In 2021, upon uncovering Facebook messages that appeared to originate from Cleary’s account, she once again approached the authorities.

“I promise I will never do it to anyone ever again.”

“I want to hear your voice,” he insisted.

“I will keep you in my prayers.”

The June 2021 warrant confirms that Ian Cleary is the owner of the Facebook account responsible for sending the messages. Brian Sinnett, the District Attorney of Adams County, filed the warrant but did not respond to a call on Tuesday.

The AP usually respects the privacy of sexual assault victims and refrains from naming them without their consent. In this case, Keeler has given her permission to be identified. However, her lawyer declined to comment on Cleary’s detention when contacted on Tuesday.

After his time at Gettysburg, Cleary pursued his education at Santa Clara University in California, where he obtained both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Following his studies, he went on to work for Tesla before eventually relocating to France for a number of years. Cleary’s website provides insight into his literary works, which predominantly consist of self-published medieval fiction.

Keeler, who hails from Moorestown, New Jersey, decided to continue her education at Gettysburg and played a pivotal role in guiding the women’s lacrosse team to a national championship.

In 2023, just two years after the warrant had been filed, Keeler and her legal team were perplexed as to how he was managing to elude capture in this era of advanced digital tracking. The U.S. Marshals Service believed that he was probably abroad and constantly on the move, especially considering that he was the focus of an Interpol alert known as a red notice.

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According to the AP investigation, campus rapes in the United States are rarely prosecuted due to various factors. One of these factors is the fear that victims have of coming forward and reporting the assault to the police. Additionally, prosecutors often hesitate to bring these cases to court because they can be challenging to win. As a result, the number of campus rape cases that result in legal consequences is significantly low.

Keeler expressed her gratitude when the warrant was issued, acknowledging that it was a result of her decision to share her story publicly. She emphasized that survivors should not have to go through such lengths to seek justice.

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