‘So I raped you’ suspect detained in France after 3-year search

Ian Thomas Cleary was accused of sexually assaulting a college student in 2013 and was captured in France after a three-year search. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Marshals Service)

A man who allegedly sexually assaulted a Pennsylvania college student in 2013 and later sent her a disturbing Facebook message that said, "So I raped you," has been detained in France following a three-year search. 

Ian Thomas Cleary, 31, of Saratoga, California, was taken into custody in April and will be held pending extradition proceedings, a prosecutor in Metz, France, confirmed Tuesday to the Associated Press. 

Cleary is accused of stalking an 18-year-old Gettysburg College student at a party, sneaking into her dorm, and sexually assaulting her as she texted friends her help, the AP reported, citing an arrest warrant.  He was a 20-year-old Gettysburg student during that time but didn’t return to campus. 

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Shannon Keeler, the alleged victim, had a rape exam performed the same day was attacked in 2013. The AP noted that Keeler gathered witnesses and evidence and spent years pushing authorities to file charges against Cleary. 

FOX News reported that authorities failed to file charges immediately after the assault, even though witnesses at the party Keeler attended had reportedly identified Cleary after the attack and in the years that followed. Even after showing police the Facebook message in 2020, they still did not file any charges.

Pennsylvania authorities issued a felony warrant for Cleary in 2021, and he was the subject of an international search. 

Keeler visited police again in 2021 after finding Facebook messages that reportedly came from Cleary’s user account. According to FOX News, she held on to various forms of documentation in her case, including blog posts Cleary appeared to publish from Europe throughout the years since the assault.

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When the arrest warrant was filed, Keeler told the AP she was "grateful" but knew it only happened because she went public with her story. 

Citing a 2021 warrant, the AP reported police verified the Facebook account used to send the messages belonged to Cleary.

The Facebook messages obtained by the AP stated the following: 

"So I raped you," the sender had written in a string of messages.

"I’ll never do it to anyone ever again."

"I need to hear your voice."

"I’ll pray for you."

Cleary left Gettysburg College and later earned an undergraduate and graduate degree from Santa Clara University in California, worked for Tesla, and moved to France, the AP noted, citing his website.

Keeler graduated from Gettysburg College and helped lead the women’s lacrosse team to a national title. 

FOX News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.  This story was reported from Washington, D.C.