Report: State lawmaker had pattern of inappropriate behavior
SEATTLE (AP) — While teaching at Central Washington University, Republican Rep. Matt Manweller engaged “in a pattern of unprofessional and inappropriate behavior” with students and former students, according to an investigative report released Wednesday.
The investigation was completed in July. The university fired Manweller, who had been working at CWU as a political-science professor, last week.
The 85-page report, produced by an investigator hired by CWU and released Wednesday, details interviews with some of Manweller’s past students who felt that Manweller had engaged in unwelcome attention, unwanted touching and grooming behavior, the Seattle Times reported . That included comments about how the women looked, physical touching and asking inappropriate personal questions.
In one case, a woman who was his student in 2009 said Manweller touched her leg during a meeting and said, “There’s always a way for you to get an A in this class.” She understood him to mean that a sexual favor could earn her a positive grade. The woman says she immediately dropped Manweller’s class. Manweller denied touching the woman’s knee and would never have made that offer, according to the report.
Manweller had been on paid leave from the school since December. That same month he was removed by House Republican leadership from his ranking member position on a House committee, and resigned his position as assistant floor leader. House leadership at the time wouldn’t offer additional details about the decision.
Manweller, who had been a professor at the university since 2003, has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the university and the investigator seeking $2 million in damages.
During Manweller’s time there, two prior investigations into allegations against him concluded that there was evidence to suggest he had violated the school’s sexual harassment policy.
In one of those, a student reported that Manweller invited her to a bar in 2006 and propositioned her and a friend to have a threesome. Manweller disputed the accounts but conceded he may have said something in the bar meeting that caused offense.
Manweller has been in the Legislature since 2012 in a district that includes Ellensburg, which is home to CWU. He’s running for re-election against Democrat Sylvia Hammond in November after a primary in which he led with 63 percent of the vote.
Manweller claims the university’s investigation was politically motivated and is accusing the investigator of biased work that sought “whatever possible dirt she could concoct” on him. In a video he posted on Twitter on Wednesday, he also accused officials of targeting him over what he described as the “trivial or even nitpicky” nature of the allegations.