A superior court judge has removed a temporary restraining order that barred Central Washington University from releasing documents related to a sexual harassment investigation involving professor and state House of Representatives candidate Mathew Manweller.
The ruling by Kittitas County Superior Court Judge Scott Sparks leaves CWU free to release redacted investigation records to the public. Sparks denied a motion to dismiss the case.
“This is a hard area, because public records are so fundamentally the public's records,” Sparks said. “When the public pays for something, usually it is the public's. But we also like to think that we have privacy.”
Sparks said the case involves aspects of Manweller's public life, not his private life.
The CWU investigation, completed Oct. 1, covered allegations of sexual harassment against Manweller that first arose in 2006. The university determined the allegations were unsubstantiated and no disciplinary action was taken against Manweller.
Manweller filed a lawsuit against CWU to obtain the restraining order Oct. 19, after the Yakima Herald-Republic and the Ellensburg Daily Record submitted public records requests with the university to obtain the results of the investigations.
Manweller said in court filings that the investigation was politically motivated and violated university policy. The university has disputed the claims.
CWU hired a Wenatchee law firm to conduct an investigation this fall after determining an investigation wasn't completed in 2006. CWU was concerned about meeting its obligations under Title IX, which requires educational institutions to investigate student allegations of sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination based on sex.
Assistant Attorney General Alan Smith, who represented CWU during the hearing, said the university is prepared to provide the newspapers with a version of the investigation results with any information redacted that could be used to identify the individuals involved.
The university has prepared a redacted version of the investigation results, Smith said, but it was not immediately clear when the results would be released or how much information will need to be redacted.
Manweller, a CWU political science professor and a Republican, is running against Moses Lake Democrat Kaj Selmann for the 13th District's seat in the state House of Representatives.
Updated 2:54: CWU has provided a redacted 89-page report in response to the Daily Record's request for records involving Matt Manweller.