Central Washington University did not discipline political science professor Mathew Manweller following a sexual harassment investigation this fall because of concerns related to the time lapse between the 2006 allegations and the investigation’s completion, according to a letter accompanying the investigation results.
The report was released Monday in response to public records requests.
Manweller, a Republican who is running for District 13’s seat in the state House of Representatives, filed a lawsuit against the university Oct. 19 to bar the document’s release. Kittitas County Superior Court Judge Scott Sparks lifted a temporary restraining order Monday, allowing CWU to release the document.
Wenatchee attorney Ernest Radillo conducted the investigation on behalf of CWU and finished the report Oct. 1.
“In my judgment, based on the documents reviewed and the interviews conducted, evidence exists to suggest (Manweller) engaged in conduct with or toward (a student) that violated CWU’s 2006 harassment policy,” Radillo wrote.
Central Washington University did not discipline Manweller “because of concerns due to the time interval between the events and this report,” said a letter accompanying the report from dean of CWU College of the Sciences Kirk Johnson.
“I am certain you can correct these behaviors, if they occurred, and provide our students with the quality education they expect from Central Washington University,” Johnson wrote.
The 89-page report investigates allegations of sexual assault against Manweller in 2006. His name and the name of the accuser are redacted; the Daily Record and Yakima Herald-Republic filed public records requests specifically seeking documents involving Manweller.
In a statement, Manweller said the claims in the report are not true.
“My wife and I are confused and deeply saddened by this report,” Manweller wrote. “In my 20 years as an educator, I have never been inappropriate with a student, and no student has ever filed a complaint against me. However, I was very pleased to see that CWU has publicly conceded, in this paper and others, that all allegations against me are unsubstantiated.”
Manweller said he sought to block the report’s release because it includes rumors, innuendo, unattributed quotes and hearsay. He says the 2012 investigation was politically motivated.
“When my family and I decided to run for office over one year ago, we were not naive to the nastiness that encumbers the politics of personal destruction,” wrote Manweller. “We knew that politics was a no-holds-barred, mean-spirited affair. But even we were not prepared for this level of mud-slinging.”
CWU officials have denied that the investigation was politically motivated. Staff said the university conducted the investigation this year to meet obligations under Title IX, which requires educational institutions to investigate student allegations of sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination based on sex.
Sherer Holter, chief of staff to CWU’s president, said “CWU did not make a determination that the allegations against Manweller were substantiated,” in a court document last week.
No written complaints were filed by students against Manweller, and at the time of the investigation, CWU had an unwritten policy of not investigating sexual harassment claims unless the accuser filed a written complaint, the report said.
The report focused on allegations from a CWU student who, according to the report, said she was concerned about filing a written complaint and feared retaliation. The former CWU student and her boyfriend were CWU political science majors at the time, the report said.
In a written statement in the report, the woman said Manweller was one of the best professors in the department, but she felt she no longer could enroll in his classes after he made sexual advances toward her.
“I regret not coming forward to more officials at the school after the incident took place; it deeply disturbs me that I did not, because I honestly believe (he) is a very intelligent, manipulative, sexually aggressive individual who will again abuse the power of his position for sexual favors,” she wrote on Sept. 26.
The woman contacted Todd Schaefer, chairman of CWU’s political science department, and several university staffers were aware of her allegations or similar allegations raised against the professor by other female students, according to the report. CWU personnel encouraged students who came forward to file complaints against the professor, the report said.
CWU now has a policy of investigating all sexual harassment complaints regardless of whether a written complaint is filed. During an interview Monday, CWU director of public affairs Linda Schactler was unsure exactly when the policy changed or what the university’s informal policy had been in 2006, but she said CWU has since established a clear policy and complies with federal law.
Although documentation and interviews suggest at least two female students made allegations against Manweller from 2006-09, the 2012 report only focused on allegations brought by a student in 2006, the report said.
The investigator interviewed Manweller, several former CWU students and CWU staff members, and examined documents related to the case. CWU personnel did not have extensive notes or documents regarding the allegations that occurred between 2006 and 2009, and some of the witness accounts were conflicting, incomplete or lacked detail, the report said.
Manweller is running against Moses Lake Democrat Kaj Selmann for the 13th District’s seat in the state House of Representatives.