Students coming forward in defense of Manweller

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Manweller

Alumni from Central Washington University are reaching out to Rep. Matt Manweller, who is under investigation by CWU for allegations of sexual harassment, alleging that the lead investigator was manipulative in her interviews.

Manweller said that three CWU students interviewed by lead investigator Trish Murphy have come forward of their own accord after seeing news reports about the investigation, and that neither Manweller nor his attorney reached out to them. Two have signed affidavits under penalty of perjury. A third has promised to do so next week, Manweller said in an email.

One affidavit, from Isa Holsclaw, has already been released by Manweller. In her affidavit, Holsclaw said she felt that Murphy was “engaged in a ‘Witchhunt’ against Professor Manweller,” and had provided leading questions regarding sexually inappropriate behavior. Murphy also asked about whether Holsclaw believed Manweller was driving while intoxicated after an event the two were at. Holsclaw said in the affidavit that she told Murphy she was never uncomfortable around Manweller, and that she had no knowledge of Manweller driving while drunk.

Two other students have come forward with similar accounts, though Manweller said they have asked to remain anonymous out of concern that CWU would retaliate against them. Both have agreed to go public if Manweller proceeds to file a lawsuit against the university, he added.

The second affidavit states that Murphy contacted her regarding a claim that Manweller offered students to exchange sexual favors for grades. The anonymous student said that she told Murphy “no” and had considered the question comical. The student said that Murphy quickly ended the call after hearing the student’s positive opinion of Manweller, and Murphy “did not care to hear any positive information about Professor Manweller.”

A third student, who sent a statement to Manweller via email, said she has babysat for Manweller in the past. This student, identified only by her first name, Michelle, said that she told Murphy that Manweller was friendly and a good conversationalist. Michelle said in her email that Murphy asked if Manweller was “too friendly,” and asked if he had ever made comments about Michelle’s appearance.

“I felt very uncomfortable in the conversation and definitely felt like she was trying to manipulate me and twist my words,” Michelle said.

Murphy did not respond to multiple requests for comment. In a statement released to news organizations, CWU’s Vice-President of Public Affairs Kremiere Jackson said that the university is committed to “conducting an objective, thorough and fair investigation.”

Manweller has released a video statement and done several radio show interviews in the past week criticizing the investigation as a partisan attack against a conservative professor by a liberal university. In an interview with the Columbia Basin Herald, Manweller declined to comment on his legal strategy or under what conditions he would file a lawsuit, offering only that he was considering legal action.

“I would like Central to concede that this was an investigation with a preordained result from a very biased investigator,” Manweller said.

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