Twelve female cast members and six crew members of One Tree Hill have come forward with allegations of sexual harrassment against creator and executive producer Mark Schwahn.
Sophia Bush, Bethany Joy Lenz, Hilarie Burton and others released a letter detailing Schwahn's behavior to Variety on Monday. The letter comes after OTH writer Audrey Wauchope's Twitter thread on Saturday where she accused an unnamed EP of sexually harassing writers.
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
— Sophia Bush (@SophiaBush) November 13, 2017
Thank you @audreyalison 🙏✊🏼
— Bethany Joy Lenz (@BethanyJoyLenz) November 13, 2017
Burn it down, sis. Love your bravery. I back your play 100%. Let's talk. Xo
— Hilarie Burton (@HilarieBurton) November 13, 2017
In the letter, the women describe the "open secret" of psychological and emotional manipulation on the part of Schwahn. "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 reads.
One Tree Hill ran on the WB from 2003 to 2006 before moving to the rebranded CW from 2006 to 2012.
Below is the letter in its entirety:
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
Several male cast members, including James Lafferty, Stephen Colletti, Austin Nichols and Lee Norris, took to social media on Tuesday to support their former co-workers.
I want to acknowledge the women of OTH who have penned their letter with deep wounds from a culture unacceptable for anyone, at any age, and in any business.
I have the utmost respect of your position in righting the wrongs you have endured. I stand for you, for better...
— Stephen Colletti (@StephenColletti) November 14, 2017
I stand with all my OTH sisters. We have to change. We have to be better. All of us. This is unacceptable.
— AUSTIN NICHOLS (@AustinNichols) November 14, 2017
— James Lafferty (@ThisIsLafferty) November 14, 2017
Schwahn is currently the creator/showrunner of E!'s The Royals. The network released a statement Monday stating it is "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."
Bush played Detective Erin Lindsay for four seasons on the hit NBC drama.