Saratoga man wanted for rape in 2013 has been arrested in France

LYON, France – An American accused of sexually assaulting a Pennsylvania college student in 2013 and later sending her a Facebook message that read “So I raped you” has been arrested in France after a three-year search.

A prosecutor in Metz, France, confirmed Tuesday that Ian Thomas Cleary, 31, of Saratoga, California, was taken into custody last month and is being held pending extradition proceedings.

Cleary has been the topic of a global search since authorities in Pennsylvania issued a 2021 arrest warrant within the case, weeks after an Associated Press report outlined local prosecutors' reluctance to prosecute campus sex crimes.

The arrest warrant accuses Cleary of stalking an 18-year-old Gettysburg College student at a celebration, sneaking into her dorm room and sexually assaulting her while she texted friends asking for help. He was a 20-year-old student from Gettysburg on the time but didn’t return to campus.

According to a French judicial official, Cleary was arrested on April 24 during a police check on the road in Metz. He told a judge he “came to France from Albania two or three years ago” and had only recently come to Metz but had no accommodation there, the official said. A French lawyer hired to represent him didn’t immediately return a phone call looking for comment Tuesday.

According to his online postings, Cleary had previously frolicked in France and likewise has ties to California and Maryland. His father is a technology executive in Silicon Valley, while his mother lived in Baltimore. Neither he nor his parents have returned repeated phone and email messages left by the AP, including calls to his parents on Tuesday.

Gettysburg accuser Shannon Keeler had a rape exam conducted on the identical day she was attacked in 2013. She collected witnesses and evidence and for years urged officials to press charges. She went to authorities again in 2021 after discovering the Facebook messages that appeared to return from Cleary's account.

“So I raped you,” the sender had written in a series of messages.

“I’ll never do that to anyone again.”

“I need to hear your voice.”

“I will pray for you.”

According to the June 2021 arrest warrant, police confirmed that the Facebook account used to send the messages belonged to Ian Cleary. Adams County District Attorney Brian Sinnett, who filed the lawsuit, didn’t immediately respond Tuesday.

The AP typically doesn’t name individuals who say they’re victims of sexual assault without their permission, which Keeler gave. Reached Tuesday, her attorney had no immediate comment on Cleary's detention.

Keeler, originally from Moorestown, New Jersey, stayed to finish his degree at Gettysburg and help lead the ladies's lacrosse team to a national title.

In 2023, two years after the arrest warrant was filed, Keeler and her lawyers wondered how he could avoid capture within the age of digital tracking. The U.S. Marshals Service believed he was likely abroad and traveling, although he was the topic of an Interpol red notice.

The AP investigation found that only a few campus rape cases are prosecuted within the U.S., each because victims are afraid to go to police and since prosecutors are reluctant to bring cases that could be difficult to win.

When the warrant was issued, Keeler said she was grateful but knew it only happened “because I went public with my story, which is something no survivor should do to seek justice.”

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