November 14, 2017 4:02 pm

‘One Tree Hill’ creator Mark Schwahn accused of sexual harassment by cast, crew

Cast of 'One Tree Hill' : Hilarie Burton, Bethany Joy Lenz, Chad Michael Murray, Sophia Bush and James Lafferty.

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One Tree Hill (OTH) creator Mark Schwahn has been accused of sexual harassment by 18 female cast and crew members who worked on the TV show, including stars Sophia Bush and Hilarie Burton.

In a joint letter released Monday, the women said they “stand together in support” of One Tree Hill writer Audrey Wauchope, who alleged that she was subjected to harassment while working on the series on Twitter this weekend.

“Moving on. The staff sat on couches. Female writers would try to get the spot where the showrunner wouldn’t sit as to not be touched,” she tweeted. “Often men would help out by sitting next to him, thus protecting the women.”

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“I’m furious and sad and everything else for the women who have sat on that couch next to that man,” Wauchope tweeted. “And I’m furious and sad and everything else that years later I don’t feel safe to be able to do anything real about this and that it seems to be happening all over this town.”

“He pet hair. He massaged shoulders,” she wrote. “I know he did more but not to me so they’re not my stories to share.”

She also claimed that the showrunner said he hired female writers based on looks, not talent and that he also allegedly skipped the staff’s mandatory sexual harassment meeting. “I don’t blame the studio, I doubt they knew,” Wauchope wrote. “I blame a system that allows one person to have so much power they can do whatever they want.”

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The joint letter, first reported by Variety, claims that “Schwahn’s behaviour over the duration of the filming of One Tree Hill was something of an ‘open secret.’ Many of us were, to varying degrees, manipulated psychologically and emotionally. More than one of us is still in treatment for post-traumatic stress. Many of us were put in uncomfortable positions and had to swiftly learn to fight back, sometimes physically, because it was made clear to us that the supervisors in the room were not the protectors they were supposed to be.”

The letter continues: “Many of us were spoken to in ways that ran the spectrum from deeply upsetting, to traumatizing, to downright illegal. And a few of us were put in positions where we felt physically unsafe. More than one woman on our show had her career trajectory threatened.”

Many of the men of One Tree Hill, including Chad Michael Murray, James Lafferty, Austin Nichols and Bryan Greenberg, are showing support for the female cast and crew members accusing Schwahn of sexual harassment and physical and emotional manipulation.

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Murray, who played Lucas Scott, released a statement to EW, showing his support for the female cast and crew, saying: “The women of OTH have always been strong and incredible. Today they’ve made us all even more proud by standing as a beacon of what is right, and continuing to lead & change the atmosphere of society. This affects all avenues of life, from our day to day activities in passing to each and every single workplace. Respect and love must lead the way. A new frontier has arrived & it’s an honour to see all women stand up to the opposition that has caused so much pain. Equal rights & equal treatment isn’t an option, it is mandatory. Equality, safety and respect for all is the goal.”

He concluded, “I stand with all the those who have suffered & pray that this evil will meet its demise in the strength of this movement. OTH Women- I’m so dang proud of you.”

Greenberg, who played Jake Jagielski, said he was “shocked and saddened to hear what the women of OTH had to endure.”

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Lafferty, who played Nathan Scott, said he applauds “every woman on OTH, every woman on earth, who stands up to a system that has failed them in the past and in this moment.”

Nichols, who played Julian Baker, said, “I stand with all my OTH sisters. We have to change. We have to be better. All of us. This is unacceptable.”

Stephen Colletti, who played Chase Adams, said, “I want to acknowledge the women of OTH who have penned their letter with deep wounds from a culture unacceptable for anyone, at any age, and in any business.”

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Antwon Tanner, who played Skills Taylor, said, “To my sisters/all the women of OTH that have come forward and showed their bravery. I want u to know that I love u and I support u.”

Robert Buckley, who played Clayton Evans, said, “To the women of OTH that have come forward and bravely used their voices, I want you to know I believe you, I respect you and I support you.”

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Schwahn created One Tree Hill and served as the showrunner. The hit TV series aired from 2003 to 2012 on the WB and the CW. The series followed a group of North Carolina teenagers through their high school years and later in their adult lives.

Schwahn’s current show, The Royals, airs on E!. A spokesperson for that network said in a statement: “We are monitoring the information carefully. E!, Universal Cable Productions, and Lionsgate Television are committed to providing a safe working environment in which everyone is treated respectfully and professionally.”

Schwahn has not commented on the allegations as of this writing.

Read the full joint letter below.

To Whom It May Concern,

All of the female cast members of One Tree Hill have chosen this forum to stand together in support of Audrey Wauchope and one another. To use terminology that has become familiar as the systemic reality of sexual harassment and assault has come more and more to light, Mark Schwahn’s behavior over the duration of the filming of One Tree Hill was something of an “open secret.” Many of us were, to varying degrees, manipulated psychologically and emotionally. More than one of us is still in treatment for post-traumatic stress. Many of us were put in uncomfortable positions and had to swiftly learn to fight back, sometimes physically, because it was made clear to us that the supervisors in the room were not the protectors they were supposed to be. Many of us were spoken to in ways that ran the spectrum from deeply upsetting, to traumatizing, to downright illegal. And a few of us were put in positions where we felt physically unsafe. More than one woman on our show had her career trajectory threatened.

The through line in all of this was, and still is, our unwavering support of and faith in one another. We confided in each other. We set up safe spaces to talk about his behavior and how to handle it. To warn new women who joined our ranks. We understood that a lot of it was orchestrated in ways that kept it out of sight for the studio back home. We also understood that no one was fully unaware. The lack of action that has been routine, the turning of the other cheek, is intolerable. We collectively want to echo the calls of women everywhere that vehemently demand change, in all industries.

Many of us were told, during filming, that coming forward to talk about this culture would result in our show being canceled and hundreds of lovely, qualified, hard-working, and talented people losing their jobs. This is not an appropriate amount of pressure to put on young girls. Many of us since have stayed silent publicly but had very open channels of communication in our friend group and in our industry, because we want Tree Hill to remain the place “where everything’s better and everything’s safe” for our fans; some of whom have said that the show quite literally saved their lives. But the reality is, no space is safe when it has an underlying and infectious cancer. We have worked at taking our power back, making the conventions our own, and relishing in the good memories. But there is more work to be done.

We are all deeply grateful for Audrey’s courage. For one another. And for every male cast mate and crew member who has reached out to our group of women to offer their support these last few days. They echo the greater rallying cry that must lead us to change: Believe Women. We are all in this together.

With Love and Courage,

The Cast,

Sophia Bush, Hilarie Burton, Bethany Joy Lenz, Danneel Harris, Michaela McManus, Kate Voegele, Daphne Zuniga, India de Beaufort, Bevin Prince, Jana Kramer, Shantel Van Santen, and Allison Munn

And Brave Crew,

Audrey Wauchope, Rachel Specter, Cristy Koebley, JoJo Stephens, Jane Beck, Tarin Squillante

And All the rest of the Women We Worked With Who Are Finding Their Voices as We Speak

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