Showrunner Mark Schwahn Accused of Sexual Harassment by 'One Tree Hill' Cast, Crew
Stars of The CW show including Sophia Bush, Hilarie Burton and Bethany Joy Lenz released a statement in support of writer Audrey Wauchope, who tweeted about harassment from Schwann without publicly naming him.
The Royals showrunner Mark Schwahn has been accused of sexual harassment by the cast and crew of his former show One Tree Hill, who issued a statement on Monday in support of their colleague, writer Audrey Wauchope.
Without publicly naming Schwahn, Wauchope tweeted Saturday that she and her writing partner were sexually harassed during their time working on the series, including inappropriate touching and comments, and accused the showrunner of showing naked photos of an actress he was in a relationship with to crewmembers.
"Female writers would try to get the spot where the showrunner wouldn't sit as to not be touched. Often men would help out by sitting next to him, thus protecting the women," Wauchope wrote. "Sometimes we wouldn't luck out and he'd just squeeze his disgusting body in between us and put his arms around us, grinning. He pet hair. He massaged shoulders. I know he did more but not to me so they're not my stories to share."
In a joint statement, signed by series stars including Sophia Bush, Hilarie Burton and Bethany Joy Lenz, the female castmembers of One Tree Hill backed up Wauchope's claims and alleged Schwahn manipulated many of them "psychologically and emotionally."
The statement reads, "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 message also claims cast and crew were spoken to in ways that were "traumatizing" and "downright illegal," and more than one woman had her career threatened while working on the show.
E!, which works with Schwahn on The Royals, said in a statement Monday that the network is "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."
The female castmembers took to social media on Monday to share the statement, spurring reactions from many of their male co-stars. Bryan Greenberg said he was "shocked and saddened" and supported the women fully. "I hope that their courage to tell the truth will help put an end to the pervasive culture of harassment in the work place. There’s no place for it," he wrote on Twitter. Stephen Colletti responded to the "deep wounds from a culture unacceptable for anyone, at any age, and in any business." Austin Nichols said, "We have to change. We have to be better. All of us." James Lafferty applauded the One Tree Hill women and all women who are standing up to a "system that has failed them in the past and in this moment." Star Chad Michael Murray shared a post from Burton and Bush on Wauchope's claims, while Lee Norris, Antwon Tanner and Robert Buckley all shared their public support.
Read the One Tree Hill cast and crew's full statement:
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,
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, Jane Beck, Tarin Squillante, Cristy Koebley, JoJo Stephens
And All the rest of the Women We Worked With Who Are Finding Their Voices as We Speak
See the cast reactions on social media below:
What a long time coming. Your deeds will truly find you out in the end. I’m grateful for the opportunity to speak up in a time when change is possible. There is still more to say but for this moment, we thank you for your support— Bethany Joy Lenz (@BethanyJoyLenz) November 14, 2017
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.— Stephen Colletti (@StephenColletti) November 14, 2017
I have the utmost respect of your position in righting the wrongs you have endured. I stand for you, for better...
I stand with all my OTH sisters. We have to change. We have to be better. All of us. This is unacceptable.— AUSTIN NICHOLS (@AustinNichols) November 14, 2017
Shocked and saddened to hear what the women of OTH had to endure. I’m proud of them for speaking up. I support them fully. And I hope that their courage to tell the truth, will help put an end to the pervasive culture of harassment in the work place. There’s no place for it.— Bryan Greenberg (@bryangreenberg) November 14, 2017
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— antwon tanner (@antwon_tanner) November 14, 2017
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.— Robert Buckley (@robertbuckley) November 14, 2017
Nov. 14, 6:30 a.m. This story has been updated with cast reactions.