Manweller blasted the university’s investigation into him, calling it politically motivated. In a text message Tuesday, Manweller wrote that he intended to file a lawsuit against both the university and the investigator.
OLYMPIA — Central Washington University has fired professor and state Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg, following its latest investigation into allegations of inappropriate behavior by the lawmaker.
In a statement released Tuesday, the university said it wouldn’t make public an investigation report into the allegations until later this month, but that Manweller’s employment had ended.
Manweller has blasted the university’s investigation into him, calling it politically motivated. In a text message Tuesday, Manweller wrote that he intended to file a lawsuit against both the university and the investigator.
“Over nine months ago the University communicated to me that they were going to terminate my employment regardless of what the investigation revealed,” Manweller wrote. “Today, they made good on that threat.”
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While the university didn’t provide details about the investigation, its statement said Manweller “has been afforded all of his due process rights under the faculty collective bargaining agreement, including the right to union representation.”
In previous years the university looked into two other allegations of sexual harassment made against Manweller. The lawmaker, meanwhile, was the subject of another, separate complaint made last year at the Washington Legislature.
He is one of several current or former Washington legislators that have faced scrutiny in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
The university’s action comes as lawmakers and officials in Olympia are grappling with how to strengthen a system to report complaints and hold accountable those found to have behaved inappropriately.
In anticipation of the report becoming public, Manweller released a video earlier this month in which he criticized the investigation as politically motivated and accused officials of targeting him over trivial issues.
“Let’s be clear: Central is not responding to allegations, they are manufacturing allegations,” Manweller said in the video.
He said sexual harassment should be taken seriously but that it’s a disservice to the #MeToo movement if some of the issues raised in the report are considered harassment.
“There is nothing in this report to apologize for,” he said. “The things that are true are not inappropriate. And the things that are inappropriate are not true.”
In its statement, the university said it “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 University trusts that the investigation report — and the University’s response — will fully address and validate the concerns of our students, and we thank them for their courage in coming forward,” the statement says.
Manweller had been at the university since 2003 and worked as a political-science professor. A state lawmaker since 2012, he has been cruising toward re-election this year. Results of the Aug. 7 primary election show him with nearly two-thirds of the vote.
The latest investigation of Manweller began after a Seattle Times story in December that detailed two previous investigations conducted at CWU.
In one of those, a student had reported that Manweller invited her to a bar in 2006 and propositioned her and a friend to have a threesome, according to records. In another, a student had reported that Manweller had made sexual comments, touched her leg and kissed her in his office.
Manweller disputed the accounts but conceded he may have said something in the bar meeting that caused offense. The inquiries had concluded that there was evidence to suggest he had violated the school’s sexual-harassment policy, and the second investigation led the dean to issue a letter of reprimand and require that Manweller undergo sexual-harassment training, according to records.
After the Times article, Manweller’s first wife said she believed Manweller was grooming her when she was a high-school sophomore and he was a teacher at her school. The two married in June 2000, shortly after her graduation.
The Times also reported the account of a woman who worked at the Legislature and complained last year about his conduct.
That woman reported that she had a meeting with Manweller that she thought was to be about her career, but she said it ended up feeling more like a date. She said Manweller steered the conversation toward personal issues, made what she thought were flirtatious comments, put her coat around her and opened the door to his car for her to get in.
Manweller has said he was only being polite and trying to help the woman.
CWU placed him on leave and began the new investigation. Manweller stepped down from his position as assistant floor leader in the state House.