Bay Area native who allegedly admitted to 2013 rape via Facebook message caught in France

Cleary is a Santa Clara University alum who had been on the run since the messages were made public in 2021.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2024 11:21AM
Bay Area native who admitted to rape via Facebook caught in France
Ian Thomas Cleary, a Bay Area native who admitted to 2013 rape via Facebook message, was caught in France, according to authorities.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Ian Thomas Cleary, a 31-year-old Bay Area native who was wanted by U.S. Marshals for rape, has now been caught in France, according to the Associated Press.

"He did force himself on me and rape me and after he did that he started crying and said, 'I'm sorry I didn't mean to hurt you. I didn't mean to hurt you. Did I hurt you?' I said yes, you hurt me," said Shannon Keeler.

Keeler spoke to ABC News three years ago. She said she was raped by Cleary in her room after a frat party in 2013 at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. She went to campus police and local authorities but nothing was initially done and no charges filed.

RELATED: Lawyer: Man who admitted 2013 rape in Facebook message may be overseas following arrest warrant

That was until Keeler says Cleary sent Facebook messages to her allegedly admitting guilt. Police then reopened the case and put out an arrest warrant. Cleary is a Saratoga native and Santa Clara University alum who had been on the run since those messages were made public three years ago.

"It's like he came to terms that he did do it and his last few messages were, 'So I raped you. I won't do it to a girl ever again,'" said Keeler.

"I think the strength of that social media statement is going to carry the day to bring Mr. Cleary back to the United States and have him set for trial," said legal analyst Steven Clark.

Clark says that while it may seem odd that a message appearing to admit guilt was sent, it sometimes happens as people try to make amends.

Keeler told AP that after the incident, the then district attorney said it was difficult to bring cases when alcohol is involved. Clark though, says that is no longer how things are done.

"They actually look at it as a reason to bring a case because they say if someone is not capable of consent you cannot take advantage of them, even if they are intoxicated," she said.

Clark says if this case eventually goes to trial, the defense would likely try to question the validity of the Facebook messages.

Cleary's French lawyer appointed to represent him did not return phone messages on Tuesday, according to AP. As to if and when he'll be returned to the United States, that is unknown at this time. ABC7 News has reached out to multiple departments and agencies in Pennsylvania for more information.

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