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Culture > Entertainment

The ‘One Tree Hill’ Cast & Crew Have Accused Showrunner Mark Schwahn of Sexual Harassment

More sexual harassment allegations have come out, this time in a joint letter from over 15 women accusing One Tree Hill showrunner Mark Schwahn. The letter written by the female cast and crew of the hit TV drama was released Monday night and details the horrific treatment they endured from Schwahn. The women specifically mentioned their support of Audrey Wauchope, a writer that came forward with allegations via Twitter prior to their letter.

In her tweets, Wauchope recounted her time as a writer for OTH, saying Schwahn would touch women inappropriately, make crude jokes and comments, show pictures of a naked actress he was having an affair with and not show up to a mandatory sexual harassment seminar.

In the letter, written to vocalize their support of Wauchope and share their own experiences, female members of OTH‘s cast and crew—including leading ladies Sophia Bush, Hilarie Burton and Bethany Joy Lenz—say Schwahn’s actions caused a lot of damage they’re still dealing with. “Many of us were, to varying degrees, manipulated psychologically and emotionally,” their statement reads. “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 letter also says the women’s jobs were in jeopardy if they came forward about Schwahn’s abuse. 

Wauchope’s courage encouraged the women to write the letter. “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.” The women ended the letter by saying they were there to support Wauchope and they are “all in this together.”

After the letter came out, showing the true distress Schwahn has caused the women of OTH, male cast and crew members have been nothing but supportive. Among the cast members speaking out are Chad Michael Murray, James Lafferty and Austin Nichols. 

“The women of OTH have always been strong and incredible,” Murray told Entertainment Weekly. “Today they’ve made us all even more proud by standing as a beacon of what is right, and continuing to lead & change the atmosphere of society. This affects all avenues of life, from our day to day activities in passing to each and every single work place. Respect and love must lead the way. A new frontier has arrived & it’s an honor to see all women stand up to the opposition that has caused so much pain. Equal rights & equal treatment isn’t an option, it is mandatory. Equality, safety and respect for all is the goal. I stand with all the those who have suffered & pray that this evil will meet its demise in the strength of this movement. OTH Women- I’m so dang proud of you.” 

Along with Murray, other men have taken to Twitter to show their love for the women of OTH.

I’m saddened by the pain and suffering Schwahn caused so many women, but I’m glad they aren’t staying silent. It’s nice to see their former male cast and crew mates supporting them, too. I hope the strength of these women—and all women who’ve spoken out about similar situations—will be enough to make lasting change.

Abbey is a senior at the University of Wyoming and is currently majoring in Journalism. She couldn't imagine a world without Jesus, coffee, The 1975, Twitter or her family. You'll usually find her at a concert or cafe somewhere, which is where she spends majority of her free-time. Talking to band members after their shows is a hobby, along with thrifting & indulging in all aspects of pop culture. After college, she plans to spend more time at concerts, getting paid to write about music and bands.