State Legislator, WA-13
Matt Manweller was recently fired from his tenured faculty position by Central Washington University following a university investigation that, according to the Seattle Times, found that Manweller “engaged in a pattern of unprofessional and inappropriate behavior" with female students and "offer[ed] an educational benefit in exchange for sex." He has also faced calls from the House Republican Caucus to resign after the publication of allegations that he had a sexual relationship with one of his former high school students when she was still a minor.
This was the third such investigation of Manweller for similar issues. His termination follows the publication of an investigative report by the Seattle Times asserting that two different university investigations 2012 and 2013 found that there was evidence Manweller violated the university sexual harassment policy for inviting a student to a “threesome” sexual encounter and for harassing a student in his office.
The University’s 85 page report details these allegations. One student reported that she met with Manweller in his office about her research paper. Manweller closed the door, pulled his chair close to her and said “the sexual energy between two of them was undeniable.” According to the student, Manweller said that they could “be discreet,” said that she would not have to write her final paper but they could go to a hotel and do it “orally,” grabbed her knee and, kissed her on the mouth. She immediately left, felt extremely upset and reported Manweller to the university. Manweller then went to her workplace and even called her mother to try to find her. Manweller did not specifically deny these allegations.
Another student reported that Manweller took her to lunch and said he “could not stop thinking about her, was dreaming about her, wanted to run away with her, told her he knew it was wrong and how much trouble he could get in.” The student told the investigator that she was upset and tried to leave, but according to the student he yelled “don’t go” and grabbed her. She thought he was trying to kiss her but was able to “push him off.” He then made several unwelcome efforts to contact her such as facebook messaging her and showing up outside her classes to try to walk her to her next class. The investigator found that the student’s complaint was credible and Manweller was not credible.
The university report is filled with stories like these of students who felt that Manweller was “hitting on” them, “leering,” “creepy” and “gross.” Even Manweller’s babysitter reported that he was inappropriate to her.
Manweller called these allegations “nitpicky.”
Recently a former legislative staff member also complained about Manweller’s conduct. Before he was a professor, Manweller was a high school teacher. He has been accused of having a sexual relationship with a former student while she was still a minor. He also married one of his students shortly after her 18th birthday. The couple later divorced and Manweller’s former wife recently accused him of “grooming” her for a sexual relationship while she was in high school, starting when she was just a sophomore. Manweller has also voted against protections for rape victims in the legislature and he characterized the #metoo movement as a “mob mentality” similar to McCarthyism.
Manweller is a three-term incumbent with a $100K campaign war chest who has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the state university that fired him. The university responded that its investigation fully “validat[ed] the concerns of our students,” and criticized Manweller for “trivializing” the harassment reports. Manweller’s lawsuit is simply wasting taxpayer dollars that are badly needed for education. His challenger in the race is Sylvia Hammond, a 40 year resident of the district, farmer, mother of five, teacher, and community leader. Hammond has called on Manweller to resign, and said that he “needs to be held accountable for his refusal or inability to change his treatment of young women.”