One Tree Hill creator Mark Schwahn has been accused of sexual harassment and physical and emotional manipulation by 18 female cast and crew members who worked on the TV drama, 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 over the weekend alleged on Twitter that she was subjected to unwanted touching and other forms of harassment by Schwahn, whom she did not refer to by name, while working on the series.
“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.”
The joint letter, which was first reported by Variety, asserts that “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.”
A representative for Schwahn did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment about the allegations.
Schwahn created One Tree Hill and served as the showrunner. Airing 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 series, The Royals, airs on E!. A spokesperson for that network said in a statement to EW, “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.”
Read the full joint letter below.
James Lafferty, Austin Nichols, and Stephen Colletti voiced solidarity with their female costars on Twitter Monday, all saying with “stand with” the women who spoke up. “I applaud 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,” Lafferty wrote in part, while Nichols said, “We have to change. We have to be better. All of us. This is unacceptable.” Colletti addressed his female colleagues “who penned their letter with deep wounds,” saying he has “the utmost respect of your position in righting the wrongs you have endured. I stand for you, for better…”
See their full statements below.