A Washington state politician has refused to resign from the House after allegations of sexual harassment, despite pleas from state party leaders.
Rep. Matt Manweller (R-Ellensburg) announced Monday that he’ll serve the rest of his term, but not the next if he is re-elected in November.
“At this point we are only three weeks away from ballots going to the voters,” he said in a text message to the Yakima Herald. “My name will appear on those ballots regardless of what I decide to do with respect to my campaign and service to the district. I also believe it is important than the 68 percent of voters who identify as Republicans have someone to vote for.”
Late last year, the Seattle Times reported that Manweller had been investigated twice for allegedly sexually harassing students while he was teaching political science at Central Washington University more than a decade earlier. After the report, the university opened an investigation into Manweller and found that he had led a pattern of inappropriate behavior including “allegations of unwanted touching, suggestive conversations and offering an educational benefit in exchange for sex.”
Manweller, who called the allegations “trivial” and “nitpicky” in a video on his website, was fired after 15 years at Central Washington.
Last week, Manweller’s former high school student told Northwest News Network that she had a sexual relationship with him after she graduated in 1997, when she was 17. Under Idaho state law, where he taught, that would have been classified as statutory rape.
He also denied those claims.
Following the most recent allegations, Washington State House Republican leadership asked Manweller to resign.
“I am deeply saddened and disappointed by the story shared in the well-documented piece from the NW News Network,” House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox said in a statement Friday. “What Matt did was wrong.”