The Odessa Record -

Manweller fired from job at Central Washington University


August 16, 2018

Republican state Rep. Matt Manweller, currently running for his fourth term as the District 13 state representative, was fired from his position as a tenured professor of political science at Central Washington University Tuesday after a lengthy investigation into his conduct with female students.

A statement released by the university provided no details regarding the findings of the investigation, which was conducted by Trish Murphy of Northwest Workplace Law. Her report will be publicly released in late August.

Manweller was investigated by the university in 2012 and 2013 after allegations of sexual harassment and of propositioning female students. Though the accusations were never substantiated, Manweller was nevertheless reprimanded for using poor judgment. He challenged the reprimand, and the university ultimately paid his attorney fees and promoted him to a full professor.

In December 2107, Manweller was placed on leave while the university investigated again after receiving calls and emails from former students following a series of news stories about past allegations against him.

Manweller has the right to appeal his termination and told reporters Tuesday that he plans to file a lawsuit against Central Washington University and the investigator.

Although Manweller gave up his positions as assistant floor leader for House Republicans and was stripped of his role as the ranking Republican on the House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee, still serves as vice-chair of the state Select Committee on Pension Policy.

He has come out fighting. After seeing a copy of the investigation report, he posted a video on Facebook August 1 in which he said there was nothing in it to apologize for. He said the allegations were trivial. "The things that are true are not inappropriate and the things that are inappropriate are not true."

"[S]everal women have come foward to sign affidavits noting that the investigator asked incredibly leading questions, badgered witnesses that did not agree with her narrative and tried to put words in their mouths," Manweller wrote.

Manweller previously released one affidavit from a former CWU student, Isa Holsclaw, who said she felt "pressured" to say things to Murphy "that were not true."

"Overall, I felt like Ms. Murphy was engaging in a 'witch hunt' against Professor Manweller," she wrote.

Later Tuesday, Manweller forwarded two more statements from a former student and a former babysitter alleging that Murphy, the investigator, had asked leading questions and didn't want to hear "positive information" about Manweller.

"Let's be clear, Central is not responding to allegations, they're manufacturing allegations," Manweller also said in his Facebook video.

The statement Tuesday from CWU assailed Manweller for those comments on the investigation, which Manweller described as partisan-driven.

"The University deeply regrets that Dr. Manweller has chosen to make public statements minimizing, trivializing, even ridiculing, the female students who have come forward with legitimate concerns," the statement said.

"The University trusts that the investigation report-and the University's response-will fully address and validate the concerns of our students, and we thanks them for their courage in coming forward," the statement continued.

In an interview last December with public radio, The News Tribune and The Olympian, Manweller said he "might have been" flirtatious with students before, but it wasn't his intent to "ever cross a line."

In last week's primary election, he received nearly 64 percent of the vote against Democratic challenger Sylvia Hammond.


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