In a thread posted to Twitter Saturday evening, TV writer Audrey Wauchope shared the account of how she, her writing partner Rachel Specter, and other women were sexually harassed by the showrunner at her first TV job. Though Wauchope didn’t name the showrunner or series, fans and outlets alike identified him as Mark Schwahn, the creator of One Tree Hill. OTH stars Sophia Bush and Hilarie Burton soon tweeted their support for Wauchope’s story, and now, female cast and crew members have issued a statement to Variety collectively accusing Schwahn, who also created and currently showruns The Royals, of sexual harassment.
“Many of us were, to varying degrees, manipulated psychologically and emotionally,” the statement asserts. “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.” Schwahn’s behavior was allegedly an “open secret” during the show’s eight-season run, and female employees were reportedly warned 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.” The full statement, signed by Bush, Burton, Wauchope, and 15 other female cast and crew members, appears in full 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
The statement seemingly corroborates Wauchope’s recollection of Schwahn’s degrading behavior, her tweets describing a workplace in which Schwahn allegedly showed nude photos, inappropriately touched employees, and hired female writers based on whether or not “he wants to fuck you.” Lionsgate, E!, and Universal Cable Productions, which produce The Royals, also issued a statement Monday in response to the allegations: “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.” Vulture reached out to Audrey Wauchope, Sophia Bush, and several other former One Tree Hill writers over the weekend about Wauchope’s allegations. All either declined to comment or did not respond.