‘One Tree Hill’ Creator Mark Schwahn Allegedly Sexually Harassed Women On Set: They’re Talking & I Am Furious

UPDATE: One Tree Hill cast and crew members have released a letter of support for Audrey Wauchope, publicly accusing Mark Schwahn of sexual harassment.

“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,” reads a portion of the open letter. The letter was released to Variety and signed by cast members Sophia Bush, Hilarie Burton, Bethany Joy Lenz, Danneel Harris, Michaela McManus, Kate Voegele, Daphne Zuniga, India de Beaufort, Bevin Prince, Jana Kramer, Shantel Van Santen, Allison Munn, and crew members Audrey Wauchope, Rachel Specter, Jane Beck, Tarin Squillante, Cristy Koebley, JoJo Stephens.

PREVIOUSLY: Over the past 48 hours, One Tree Hill fans have been expressing anger, disgust, and disappointment at series creator Mark Schwahn in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct. For those who don’t know, the story began over the weekend, following the news that The Flash executive producer Andrew Kreisberg was being investigated for sexual harassment in the workplace, specifically with regards to his conduct in the writers’ room. After the news broke, Audrey Wauchope, currently a writer on The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, took to twitter on Saturday, Nov. 11, to share her personal experience with sexual harassment behind the scenes at one of her first jobs as a staff writer. Wauchope did not specifically name One Tree Hill as the show she was working on when the harassment occurred; however, she did note that she was not talking about her job on Cougar Town, and, save for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, OTH is the only other show on her IMDB page, so fans quickly figured it out.

In her lengthy Twitter thread — that I suggest everyone go out and read — Wauchope details a culture of fear and misogyny fostered by “the showrunner,” writing, “Female writers would try to get the spot where the showrunner wouldn’t sit as to not be touched.”

She added that he passed around naked photos of an actress he claimed to be having an affair with without her consent, and revealed that the showrunner was noticeably absent from a mandatory sexual harassment training meeting. “I’m furious and sad and everything else for the women who have sat on the 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,” Wauchope wrote.

The next day, OTH star Hilarie Burton (Peyton) tweeted her support to Wauchope, replying, “Burn it down, sis. Love your bravery. I back your play 100%. Let’s talk. Xo.” This tweet, as well as tweets of support from co-stars Sophia Bush (Brooke) and Bethany Joy Lenz (Haley) seem to confirm that Wauchope was, indeed, writing about her experience at OTH.

Since then, fellow OTH actresses Kate Voegele (Mia), Allison Munn (Lauren), Michaela McManus (Lindsey), and India de Beaufort (Miranda), have all tweeted out their support. Beaufort even shared her own story of on set harassment, though it’s unclear whether she was speaking of her time on One Tree Hill. Vogele also shared a personal experience — again, not specifically calling out Schwahn. She posted a tease for a new song, presumably called “Shoot This Arrow,” with the caption “finished this a few weeks ago in the studio. writing music has always been my therapy. #metoo #newmusicpreview #shootthisarrow [sic].” Most of the actresses noted above and Wauchope have responded to the song on social media.

Listening to the song (assuming it is about OTH and Schwahn) it’s clear Voegele is firing a warning shot: Schwahn’s time is up, and it’s his turn to be exposed.

More than rumors of harassment, recent Twitter activity has made it abundantly clear that Schwahn’s behavior likely had something to do with Burton’s exit from the show. Burton has been liking tweets from fans, seemingly confirming the theory that she left because of Schwahn’s harassment. She retweeted this tweet from a fan, linking Burton’s departure from the series to the new allegations of harassment. (Note: nothing has been explicitly confirmed, and these are all simply allegations.)

These are a few of the tweets she’s liked:

She even slyly confirmed that her #MeToo post on Instagram from Oct. 16, captioned “It leaves a mark,” was directed at Schwahn, telling a fan who asked, “I chose my words carefully.”

The fact that Schwahn’s *alleged* behavior was so toxic that it drove away one of the series’ main stars is infuriating, and completely unacceptable. For fans, it’s a betrayal — to the characters they invested in and the love they gave to the show.

Let me be clear: I 100% believe Wauchope, and the way that the actresses of One Tree Hill have been rallying to support each other on social media makes me inclined to add that I believe them too. It might seem like I’m jumping to conclusions, but all the evidence points to Schwahn being guilty of creating a hostile work environment for women on the set of OTH.

Schwahn, who is currently acting as showrunner on E!’s Royals, has yet to respond to the rumblings on Twitter (he is conveniently not on the social media platform), but E! has. “We are monitoring the information carefully,” a spokesman for the network told Us Weekly in a statement. This story is only going to get bigger. Schwahn will be forced to respond, and, with any luck, he will be held accountable as women continue to speak out. I also hope that some of the male stars of One Tree Hill will also come out to stand by their writers and co-stars. (I’m looking at you, James Lafferty, Chad Michael Murray, and Bryan Greenberg.)

You might be wondering why I’m blogging about this on a Monday night. Well, the answer is very simple: I am furious. I watched One Tree Hill religiously from premiere to finale. I still remember exactly when I fell in love with the show, on the night of it’s premiere (right after Gilmore Girls, Tuesday nights on The WB anyone?). I wasn’t usually allowed to watch TV past 9 p.m., but my parents had plans, so I stayed up with my sisters and just like that I was hooked. Over the years, the show was something that my sisters and I bonded over. We argued about what couples to ship — Jeyton or Leyton, Naley or…nope, just Naley — and wrote fanfiction, dished on our love of James Lafferty and Chad Michael Murray (Seasons 1 & 2 only, obviously).

I’m not saying that it’s all ruined because of Schwahn’s *alleged* bad behavior, but it is tainted. And I’m furious at him for doing that to one of my favorite shows. I’m sick thinking about how he must have treated Burton, Bush, and Lenz, all while they played three badass female characters. How could a man leading a show that embraced the lasting strength of female friendships, the complexity of female identity, and the smashing of female stereotypes be terrorizing his own female employees? Knowing that Schwahn is likely a garbage human doesn’t necessarily impact how I feel about Brooke, Peyton, and Haley, but it sours my fondness for the show that gave them to me.
I hate that he has the ability to hurt women’s careers. I hate that he has the ability to hurt the fans of the show.

The only thing keeping me from becoming a ball of raging fire is the love I’ve seen on social media coming from the fans of One Tree Hill to Burton, Bush, Lenz, Voegele, etc. I love that we can all stand together to support the women of OTH.

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