Nov. 16, 9:11a.m.: This post as been updated to reflect Mark Schwahn’s suspension from his current job on The Royals
Sophia Bush, Hilarie Burton and Bethany Joy Lenz have accused One Tree Hill showrunner Mark Schwahn of sexual harassment. The women, along with 15 other female members of the show’s cast and crew, detailed their experiences with the Hollywood executive in an open letter published in Variety on November 13.
A post shared by Sophia Bush (@sophiabush) on
The letter comes in the wake of a tweet posted by Audrey Wauchope, who spoke out about a predatory showrunner at her first writing job.
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
Though Wauchope, one of the series’ writers alongside Rachel Specter, didn’t mention Schwahn’s name, the open letter did. “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,’” the women wrote.
They continued: “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 cast members wrote they were told to remain silent, and that coming forward about the harassment would be detrimental to their careers and the show. To compensate, the women created safe spaces for themselves to talk about what was happening and get support from each other.
Apparently, Schwahn’s behaviour did not stop with the end of One Tree Hill. Alexandra Park, an actor on The Royals (Schwahn’s current project), took to Twitter Thursday to share that she, too, has been subject to similar kinds of harassment.
In light of Park’s allegations, the first to come from the cast and crew of The Royals, Schwahn has been temporarily suspended as the claims are investigated. “E!, Universal Cable Productions and Lionsgate Television take sexual harassment allegations very seriously, investigate them thoroughly and independently, and take appropriate action,” the companies said in a joint statement.
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