Man Linked to ‘I Raped You’ Message Is Detained in France, Authorities Say

A man accused of sexually assaulting a Pennsylvania college student in 2013 and then, years later, sending her a message that said “So I raped you” has been arrested in France, the authorities said.

The man, Ian Thomas Cleary of Saratoga, Calif., had been sought since 2021, when a warrant for his arrest was issued charging him with sexual assault. Mr. Cleary, 31, was detained last month in Metz, France, according to the prosecutor’s office at the Metz Appeals Court.

The prosecutor’s office said that Mr. Cleary had been arrested in connection with a case involving the possession of stolen goods. It did not provide further details about the circumstances of the arrest but said that Mr. Cleary had told the French police that he had been in France for the past two to three years.

Mr. Cleary is still in detention, the prosecutor’s office said. It was not immediately clear how quickly Mr. Cleary might be extradited to the United States, but the prosecutor’s office said he could be detained for up to 60 days, which is the amount of time American judicial authorities have to file an official extradition request.

The arrest warrant was issued after Shannon Keeler discovered a series of Facebook messages from Mr. Cleary and showed them to the authorities in Adams County, Pa., where she was a student at Gettysburg College at the time of the reported attack. A lawyer for Ms. Keeler, Andrea M. Levy, said she was not commenting on the investigation on Tuesday.

Ms. Keeler reported a sexual assault to the Gettysburg Police Department on Dec. 15, 2013, after she and some friends attended a party on the Gettysburg College campus to celebrate the end of finals, according to a probable cause affidavit.

She told the authorities that Mr. Cleary, also a student at the college at the time, had followed her and a friend from the party to her dorm room. The friend who had accompanied her said that Mr. Cleary had offered $20 to leave him alone with Ms. Keeler, the affidavit said.

The friend told Mr. Cleary “to go away,” and he did, according to the affidavit.

But minutes after the friend left, Ms. Keeler told the authorities, there was a knock on her door, and she opened it without peering through the peephole, according to the affidavit.

The authorities said that Mr. Cleary entered the apartment, kissed Ms. Keeler and had sex with her without consent.

After he apologized and left the unit, Ms. Keeler messaged her friend, “OMG please Help me,” the affidavit said.

In 2021, Ms. Keeler told The Associated Press that the authorities had told her it was difficult to prosecute assault cases in which the victim had been drinking. She also said she learned in 2020 that her rape kit from the investigation had been destroyed after the case was initially closed.

But a break in the case came in May 2020, when Ms. Keeler found a series of Facebook messages that Mr. Cleary had sent to her in December 2019, according to the affidavit.

One said, “So I raped you.” Another said, “I’ll never do it to anyone ever again.”

The police obtained a search warrant for the Facebook account and matched it to Mr. Cleary through a cellphone number, according to the affidavit. The warrant for Mr. Cleary’s arrest was issued in June 2021.

By last year, the U.S. Marshals Service had come to believe that he might have gone overseas, and Mr. Cleary was the subject of an Interpol alert called a red notice, according to The A.P.

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