LYON, France (NEWSnet/AP) — A French court ruled on Monday that the American man accused of sexually assaulting a Pennsylvania college student in 2013 can be extradited to the United States.

Ian Cleary, 31, of Saratoga, California, was detained in April in the city of Metz in northeastern France after a three-year search. He has been held in custody pending extradition proceedings since his arrest.

The Court of Appeal in Metz said that Cleary can be extradited. When asked if he wished to be extradited or not, in line with French law, Cleary refused, prosecutors said in a statement Monday. His refusal may delay the extradition process, but it won’t stop it.

The ruling is final and Cleary’s case is now the responsibility of the French Justice Ministry, which must prepare and submit the extradition order for the French prime minister.

Cleary is accused of stalking and attacking an 18-year-old Gettysburg College student in 2013 but it wasn't until he allegedly sent the victim a Facebook message admitting to the crime that charges were filed.

According to officials, Cleary's accuser had a rape exam done the same day she was assaulted and spent years urging officials to file charges.

She went to authorities again in 2021 after discovering the Facebook messages that seemed to come from Cleary’s account.

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

According to the June 2021 warrant, police verified that the Facebook account used to send the messages belonged to Ian Cleary.

By 2023, two years after the warrant was filed, Keeler and her lawyers wondered how he was avoiding capture in the age of digital tracking. The U.S. Marshals Service thought he was likely overseas and on the move, even as he was the subject of an Interpol alert called a red notice.

The case shines a light on an Associated Press investigation that finds very few campus rapes are prosecuted, both because victims fear going to police and prosecutors hesitate to bring cases that can be hard to win.

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