In a story that has gone viral on news pages and in social media across the U.S., authorities in Pennsylvania this week issued a nationwide arrest warrant for a Saratoga man after he allegedly told a woman last year on Facebook, “So, I raped you.”
Shannon Keeler told her story to the Associated Press, and agreed to be identified as the victim of a 2013 attack while she was a student at Gettysburg College, sharing the text of the potentially incriminating statement by Ian Cleary, 28, of Saratoga. Cleary has not been located or arrested, according to authorities, who issued the warrant June 29.
Keeler told AP she had been gathering evidence for nearly eight years, repeatedly pleading with local prosecutors to take up her college rape complaint. During those years, she had been on a national championship lacrosse team, earned a bachelor’s degree and fallen in love.
She said she had been passing evidence of her assault on to prosecutors for years: names of people who saw the upperclassman stalk her at a fraternity party in 2013, the phone number of the friend who saw themale student follow her home, the name of the hospital where her lacrosse coach took her for a rape kit.
And then, just last year, Keeler received a message from Cleary on his Facebook account: “So, I raped you.”
After verifying the account, and after telling her story to an AP reporter, a new team of police and prosecutors obtained an arrest warrant, charging Cleary with sexually assaulting Keeler when they were students at Gettysburg College in 2013.
Police in Pennsylvania told AP that they had not yet located the suspect, and weren’t sure where he is. So it’s still not clear whether Keeler’s search will find closure.
“While I am moved to tears by this result, which I have waited for (for) over seven years, I am mindful that this moment came because I went public with my story, which no survivor should have to do in order to obtain justice,” Keeler, now 26, said in a statement issued through her lawyer.
Keeler had discussed her experience in the AP story that detailed the frequent reluctance among prosecutors to file charges in campus rape cases. Authorities had told Keeler it was difficult to prosecute cases when the victim had been drinking, she said. The rape kit was later lost or destroyed.
The affidavit filed along with the warrant accuses Cleary, then a junior and a goalie on the ice hockey team, of following Keeler home from the party, sneaking into her room and sexually assaulting her, according to the AP report.
Keeler did not even know his name. As he apologized and fled, Keeler texted friends on campus “OMG please Help me,” the documents said.
The Gettysburg Pa. Police Department had reopened the case last year after Keeler showed them a flurry of messages that appeared to come from Cleary’s Facebook account. Police got a search warrant for the account, and matched it to Cleary through the cell phone number, according to the affidavit. Adams County District Attorney Brian Sinnett, whose office had filed few rape cases involving adult victims since 2013, supported the charges.
Cleary remained at large as of Wednesday, and anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to contact Gettysburg Borough Police Detective Evans at (717) 334-1168.