‘One Tree Hill’ Showrunner Mark Schwahn Accused Of Sexual Harassment By 18 Cast Members
Eighteen members of the One Tree Hill cast have accused showrunner Mark Schwahn of sexual harassment.
ONE TREE HILL’S MARK SCHWAHN ACCUSED OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT
A letter written by writer Audrey Wauchope detailed the inappropriate behavior by Schwahn while working on the show. The letter came about after Wauchope, who is currently a writer for The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, wrote a Twitter thread about the women’s experiences with a then-unnamed showrunner.
In light of the Andrew Kreisberg reporting, a couple thoughts about my first writing job that I’ve wanted to say for years but have never had the guts to. When I was 29 my writing partner @RachelSpecter and I were hired as staff writers.
— Audrey Wauchope (@audreyalison) November 12, 2017
“To say we were excited was an understatement. To say we left that job demoralized and confused is also an understatement. One of the 1st things we were told was that the showrunner hired female writers on the basis of their looks. That’s why you’re here — he wants to f–k you,” Wauchope said on Twitter, in a thread of 14 tweets. “Imagine feeling for the rest of your career that you’re possibly an imposter — that maybe just maybe you’re only here because you’re a body, not a mind. It creeps into your thoughts and keeps you up at night and makes you wonder.”
“He’s a man in a position of power who was allowed to run a television show for years where this behavior continuously went on,” the thread continued. “I don’t blame the men on that staff — I truly believe they were also in a way victims of psychological abuse and didn’t know what to do… I’m furious and sad and everything else for the women who have sat on that couch next to that man. 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… I write all this to say that there are trickle down psychological effects to all this bullshit and the town is littered with the collateral damage of abusers who have been given free reign. If you’re sitting on one of these staffs please know whatever you are feeling is real.”
The letter was put together soon after, with the blessing of the other cast and crew involved. “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,” the letter began. “Mark Schwahn’s behavior over the duration of the filming of One Tree Hill was something of an ‘open secret.'” The letter continued to say that most women were “manipulated psychologically and emotionally,” and left them feeling unsafe in the workplace.
“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,” the letter continued. “More than one of us is still in treatment for post-traumatic stress.”
Schwahn was the showrunner on One Tree Hill for all nine seasons of the series, and has not responded to the allegations brought against him. Some actresses included in the letter are star Sophia Bush, Hilarie Burton, and Bethany Joy Lenz.
Read the full text of the 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 thesystemic 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 DeBeaufort, 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