Central Washington University said Monday it is investigating the conduct of state Rep. Matt Manweller and has placed him on administrative leave from his job as a political science professor.
Officials at the Ellensburg school declined to discuss the details of the investigation, except to say that it involved “allegations of inappropriate conduct.” Manweller, who has taught at the university since 2003, has been investigated twice in recent years for allegations of sexually harassing students, The Seattle Times reported last week. Manweller was not disciplined after the first investigation in 2012. After the second, which concluded in 2013, he was issued a letter of reprimand and ordered to undergo training to prevent sexual harassment.
While neither investigation determined that the allegations were substantiated, both concluded that there was evidence to suggest he had violated the school’s sexual harassment policies.
CWU spokeswoman Kremiere Jackson said Manweller has been placed on leave, with pay, while the new investigation occurs. She said an independent investigator will conduct the review, which she said will be “thorough, objective and fair.” She declined further comment.
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Manweller, R-Ellensburg, has denied wrongdoing at CWU. He said in a text message Monday that the university received a “handful of emails and phone calls from ex-students” in recent days and that those contacts led the university to seek another investigation.
“At this point I do not know anything about the people who called or the messages they left,” Manweller said. “I do know that I will have a chance to defend myself as the process proceeds. I think everyone should wait until the results of the investigation are made public before jumping to conclusions.”
A Times story on Monday also described the case of a woman at the Legislature who complained about Manweller after a dinner she thought was about her career. She said the discussion at the dinner turned personal, and his actions made it feel more like a date. Manweller said he was simply being polite as he worked to help the woman find a job.
At least one Democratic lawmaker has called on Manweller to resign from the House. He has said he will not do so.
Manweller, the assistant Republican floor leader in the House, is married to his second wife. His first marriage in 2000 was to a woman who was once a student at the high school where he taught. He was 30 at the time of the marriage, and she was 18.
The first wife, OraLynn Reeve, said over the weekend that Manweller kissed her when she was 17 and that, looking back on the relationship, she feels he was grooming her even back when she was a sophomore. Manweller denies that characterization and said there wasn’t any romantic contact until she was 18.