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Investigative report details misconduct claims against Manweller

Santos Herrera, News Editor - October 31, 2012

The outside investigator Central hired concluded that, in his judgment, “based on the documents reviewed and interviews conducted, evidence exists to suggest” political science professor and state representative candidate Mathew Manweller “engaged in conduct with or toward” a Central student “that violated CWU’s 2006 Sexual Harassment Policy.”

However, the university decided the report didn’t substantiate the allegations against Manweller.

In a letter to Manweller, Kirk Johnson, dean of Central’s College of the Sciences, said Central was not pursuing disciplinary actions against him “because of concerns due to the time interval between the events and this Report.”

Johnson also said in the letter that he has “serious concerns about the behaviors described in the Report. I hope that you will take this letter seriously. This letter is not, in itself, disciplinary, but future incidents of the same or similar type as those in the Report could result in disciplinary action, up to, and including termination.”

In a statement filed last Thursday with the Kittitas County Superior Court, Sherer Holter, President James Gaudino’s chief of staff, said, “After reviewing the Oct. 1 ‘Report of Investigation,’ CWU did not make a determination that the allegations against professor Manweller were substantiated.”

The investigative report was released by Central on Monday in the wake of a ruling by Kittitas County Superior Court Judge Scott R. Sparks, which dissolved the temporary restraining order the court put in place on Oct. 22. Sparks said he agreed with Manweller’s contention that the leaks that led the Yakima Herald-Republic and Daily Record to request records of the investigation were politically motivated, the Herald-Republic reported.

But regardless of motive, the allegations didn’t involve Manweller’s private or personal life, but his position as a public employee, the Herald-Republic reported.

According to the investigative report, several staff and faculty reported students were claiming that, between 2006-2009, Manweller had made “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and verbal and physical conduct of a sexual nature,” with some indicating he would trade sex for grades.

However, no formal complaints were ever filed and the outside investigator said he could only identify one claimant by name, which is who his report focused on.

Central redacted her name and Manweller’s name before releasing the report.

In her interview with the investigator, the student said she regretted not making a formal complaint, but had feared retaliation, saying both her and her boyfriend needed Manweller to write recommendation letters for them to get into law school.

In 2006, Central had an unwritten policy “not to investigate sexual harassment claims unless the claimant was willing to file a written formal complaint,” the investigative report said. But Central now “has a policy to investigate all sexual harassment claims.”

Holter’s statement said that when Central reviewed the records first provided to the Herald-Republic last summer, it “was unable to conclude that a formal investigation had been conducted, or that a sufficiently thorough investigation had been conducted in response to the 2006-07 allegations.”

She said because of CWU’s responsibility under federal law, it retained the outside investigator, who concluded his report on Oct. 1 2012.

“CWU emphatically denies professor Manweller’s allegation that the investigation was politically motivated or conducted for any other purpose,” Holter said.

Manweller is suing Central, saying the university’s order to conduct the outside investigation was “done in an effort to deliberately undermine” his political campaign and “cause him personal harm.”

Manweller said in his suit that the university “violated his civil rights, his privacy rights and his right of due process.”

He is asking for the investigative report to be expunged from his personnel record and for attorney fees. According to the Daily Record, Manweller’s attorney plans to amend his lawsuit to include demands for monetary damages. Douglas Nicholson, Manweller’s attorney, has not returned a phone call seeking comment.

In the investigative report, Manweller said he believes the “allegations and/or rumors about his conduct toward female students stems from a misinterpretation.”

He said rumors began when he was married to a Central student whom he met before coming to Central.

Manweller said he “was occasionally seen off campus holding her hand and kissing her in public.”

Manweller, a Republican, is running against Democrat Kaj Selmann of Moses Lake to represent the 13 District.



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