Sophia Bush and Hilarie Burton are among the female One Tree Hill castmembers who have written an open letter backing sexual harassment claims against the program’s creator Mark Schwahn.
Show writer Audrey Wauchope hit headlines over the weekend (11-12Nov17) when she tweeted about the harassment she’d experienced on the One Tree Hill set, without naming Schwahn. In her messages, she accused the showrunner of inappropriately touching her, making inappropriate comments and even allegedly showing off nude pictures of his actress girlfriend.
— Sophia Bush (@SophiaBush) November 14, 2017
— Hilarie Burton (@HilarieBurton) November 14, 2017
Now, in their open letter, Sophia, Hilarie and castmate Bethany Joy Lenz have been joined by crew members all accusing Schwahn of treating them in ways that were “traumatizing” and “downright illegal”.
“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,” the letter read. “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…
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 women claim they had been told that if they came forward with their stories about Schwahn, their show would likely be cancelled. “This is not an appropriate amount of pressure to put on young girls,” they added.
The group continued their message to add they had decided to speak out after recent developments in Hollywood, such as the sexual assault and harassment claims made against power players including Harvey Weinstein, James Toback and Brett Ratner, made them realize that “turning of the other cheek, is intolerable… We collectively want to echo the calls of women everywhere that vehemently demand change, in all industries.”
Praising Wauchope for prompting the discussion, they concluded: “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.”
The letter was signed by 12 actresses on the show, including Jana Kramer and Danneel Harris, and six crew members, including Wauchope.