French authorities detain American individual wanted for 2021 warrant after sending ‘So I raped you’ message on Facebook

An American man who was accused of sexually assaulting a college student in Pennsylvania back in 2013 and subsequently sending her a disturbing Facebook message admitting to the assault, has finally been apprehended in France after a lengthy three-year pursuit.

A prosecutor in Metz, France, has confirmed that Ian Thomas Cleary, a 31-year-old from Saratoga, California, was arrested last month and is currently being held in custody. He will remain held until extradition proceedings take place.

The authorities in Pennsylvania issued a felony warrant in 2021 for Cleary’s arrest after an Associated Press story highlighted the reluctance of local prosecutors to investigate campus sex crimes. This led to an international search for Cleary.

Cleary was stopped on the street in Metz on April 24 during a routine police check, as per a French judicial official. During his interaction with the magistrate, he mentioned that he had arrived in France from Albania about two or three years ago and had recently come to Metz. However, he did not have any accommodation in the city. We reached out to his appointed French lawyer for comment, but received no response at the time of writing.

According to Cleary’s online posts, he has spent time in France and has connections to both California and Maryland. His father holds a position as a tech executive in Silicon Valley, while his mother resides in Baltimore. Despite multiple attempts, the AP has been unable to reach Cleary or his parents, as they have not responded to numerous phone calls and email messages, including those made on Tuesday.

Shannon Keeler, the accuser in the Gettysburg case, underwent a rape exam immediately after the assault in 2013. With determination, she collected witness testimonies and evidence, persistently urging authorities to press charges. In 2021, upon stumbling upon Facebook messages that appeared to be from Cleary’s account, she once again approached the authorities.

“I will never do that to anyone ever again.”

“Your voice is important to me.”

“I’ll keep you in my prayers.”

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

The AP usually respects the privacy of sexual assault victims and does not disclose their names without their consent. In this case, Keeler has given permission to use her name. However, her lawyer declined to comment on Cleary’s detention when contacted on Tuesday.

After departing Gettysburg, Cleary obtained his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Santa Clara University, located near his family residence in California. Following this, he gained employment at Tesla before eventually relocating to France for an extended period. These details are outlined on his website, where he also showcases his self-published medieval fiction.

Keeler, a native of Moorestown, New Jersey, chose to continue her education at Gettysburg and played a crucial role in leading the women’s lacrosse team to a national championship.

In 2023, two years after the warrant was issued, Keeler and her lawyers were puzzled by how he managed 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, even though he was the target of a red notice issued by Interpol.

According to the AP investigation, a small number of campus rapes are prosecuted in the United States. This is due to the fact that victims are afraid to report the incidents to the police, and prosecutors are hesitant to pursue cases that may be difficult to win.

Keeler expressed her gratitude when the warrant was issued. She acknowledged that it was only possible because she had shared her story publicly, which she believes survivors should not have to do in order to seek justice.

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