Manweller responds to CWU investigation

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Matt Manweller/courtesy photo Matt Manweller

State Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg, released a statement Wednesday criticizing the object and scope of Central Washington University’s investigation into sexual harassment allegations levied against the professor and lawmaker, preempting release of the university’s final report.

“Despite what you’re going to hear in the media, it is patently false to claim several women came forward to make allegations,” Manweller said in a videotaped statement.

Instead, Manweller said, CWU paid the lead investigator to pressure women into making statements.

“Let’s be clear, Central is not responding to allegations, they’re manufacturing allegations,” Manweller said.

Manweller also said that “the fix was in,” and that an inside source within the university’s administration informed Manweller in December 2017 that the university had decided to fire him before the investigation had begun.

Manweller also went onto two radio shows to discuss the details of the investigation.

“They took everyday events of me just being kind or personable and twisting them to force it into this MeToo narrative,” Manweller said during an interview Tuesday on The Todd Herman Show.

Tuesday’s interview focused on a particular incident during a labor committee meeting at the state capitol, where a female legislative staffer handed out paperwork to committee members, including Manweller. Manweller turned to look at the staffer for a few seconds.

“They were using that as evidence as proof that I stared at people, that I looked inappropriately at people.” Manweller said. “For that I have been put on paid leave for eight months, had my name dragged through the mud, my reputation shot, and been a human piñata for the Seattle Times and the Tacoma News Tribune.”

When asked if he wished he had done anything different, Manweller said would have been less personable with students.

“If I had a crystal ball 12 years ago in 2006, and I could see the future of the MeToo movement, there’s probably a few things I would have done different,” Manweller said. “When I was out in public having a drink, if I saw a student walk into the bar, I probably would have paid my tab and left rather than staying.”

Manweller also said he would have joked less with students.

“I tease people, I got a pretty sharp sense of humor. I don’t think you can do that with students anymore, I don’t think you can do that with colleagues anymore,” Manweller said. “Probably if I had a do-over, I would have been more like the professor in Ferris Bueller; that’s probably safer for my family.”

In an interview Wednesday on the Kirby Wilbur Show, Manweller listed the accusations he said would be brought up in the as-yet-unreleased CWU report:

In one instance, Manweller said he had walked through the university’s cafeteria and spotted one of his students sitting alone that looked depressed. Manweller said that they had a brief conversation about the student’s emotional state and whether she liked the programs she was involved in.

Manweller said another allegation from a female student claimed Manweller had stared overly long at another student during class.

Another incident the investigator reviewed involved a student emailing Manweller on a legislative email account about her interest in becoming a lawmaker one day. Manweller said he emailed the student asking her to email a different account and that investigators called this unwanted contact.

CWU looked at more than Manweller’s time as a professor, he said. As a legislator, Manweller was the subject of informal complaints by a legislative staffer, whom Manweller invited to dinner to discuss her career path. After the dinner, Manweller opened the door for the staffer and helped her into her coat. The legislative staffer said the meeting had felt more like a date. Manweller said the report also referenced an incident where a woman felt he stood too close to her at a reception, and another incident where he gave his 23-year-old babysitter a glass of wine.

Manweller was also critical of Trish K. Murphy of Northwest Workplace Law, who was hired by the university to investigate Manweller.

“CWU went into downtown Seattle and hired the most liberal, feminist attorney they could find,” Manweller said Tuesday. “They gave her $120,000, eight months to dig through every aspect of my life, and this is the kind of stuff they came up with.”

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